Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #944 Fireside Rant: WTF Is Going On? The Caligulization of America and the End of the American Century

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

NB: This pro­gram con­tains infor­ma­tion that was not con­tained in the orig­i­nal pro­gram.

Trump kept a copy of this by his bedside.

Trump kept a copy of this by his bed­side.

Intro­duc­tion: This broad­cast is a (prob­a­bly part­ly unsuc­cess­ful) sum­ma­ry attempt at explain­ing what will be the results of the ascen­dance of the Trumpenkampfver­bande in the U.S.

It is to be hoped that this descrip­tion will go fur­ther toward explain­ing what is going on than the orig­i­nal pro­gram.

In addi­tion to the excerpts of arti­cles pre­sent­ed in the pro­gram, we will sum­ma­rize some of the cen­tral argu­ments in the broad­cast, with links to oth­er pro­grams and lec­tures, where pos­si­ble.

In AFA #37, we dis­cussed the Gehlen “Org” and relat­ed ele­ments as a Tro­jan Horse, using anti-com­mu­nism to infil­trate the Unit­ed States and, ulti­mate­ly, destroy it from with­in. In this pro­gram we devel­op that analy­sis fur­ther, adding the role of the House of Hab­s­burg and asso­ciates to the Tro­jan Horse metaphor.

When the U.S. frus­trat­ed the de-Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many, opt­ed to ally with the remark­able and dead­ly Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work and the asso­ci­at­ed Hab­s­burg roy­al fam­i­ly, and returned the Japan­ese and Ital­ian fas­cists to pow­er (with a civil­ian facade), this coun­try signed its own death war­rant.

Amer­i­ca’s entry into two World Wars, after the com­bat had pro­ceed­ed for years, decid­ed both con­flicts against Ger­many. The Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion was the first suc­cess­ful revolt of a Euro­pean colo­nial pow­er against its colo­nial mas­ter.

Both Ger­many and the House of Hab­s­burg vowed nev­er again! Nev­er! 

In this con­text, we observe that the Hab­s­burgs (roy­al house of the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an Empire) ruled for six hun­dred years. Six hun­dred years ago–1417–was three quar­ters of a cen­tu­ry before Colum­bus sailed.

To the Hab­s­burgs, Amer­i­ca is a blip. Democ­ra­cy is a blip. They see things in an entire­ly dif­fer­ent way. Because the U.S. was an unas­sail­able mil­i­tary pow­er and the most pow­er­ful econ­o­my on earth, the coun­try could only be brought down by sub­ver­sion from with­in.

We gave the Under­ground Reich and the Hab­s­burgs the keys to the king­dom, not unlike the Prae­to­ri­an Guard–Germanic mer­ce­nary troops appoint­ed to guard the Roman Emper­or. Even­tu­al­ly they con­trolled the throne and pre­served the Roman Empire for as long as it could make lucra­tive pay­ments to the Ger­man­ic tribes who even­tu­al­ly defeat­ed and sacked Rome.

The thrust of the broad­cast is that the ascen­sion of Trump–an Amer­i­can Caligula–is indeed the end of what Hen­ry Luce called “The Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry.”

The author of our first arti­cle is a for­mer edi­tor for Time mag­a­zine and a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cer, so his lit­er­al take on Luce’s pro­nounce­ment is not sur­pris­ing.

What Sten­gel is talk­ing about is the end of “Brand Amer­i­ca,” to coin a phrase–the suc­cess­ful PR mar­ket­ing of this coun­try as the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, etc.

That polit­i­cal mythol­o­gy, which com­pelled much of Mr. Emory’s ini­tial involve­ment in this research when he began in the ear­ly ’70s, will evap­o­rate. That dis­si­pa­tion, how­ev­er, will be eclipsed by the dev­as­tat­ing eco­nom­ic, envi­ron­men­tal, social and polit­i­cal dev­as­ta­tion that will sure­ly fol­low Trump’s poli­cies.

As Mr. Emory fore­cast in FTR #‘s 918 and 919, among oth­er pro­grams in the “Trumpenkampfver­bande” series, Trump’s anti-NATO rhetoric and gen­er­al dis­parag­ing of the Atlanti­cist alliances that have held sway dur­ing the bet­ter part of “The Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry” are focused on pre­cip­i­tat­ing the Under­ground Reich goals of: an all-EU army replac­ing NATO, a Ger­man-dom­i­nate Europe  assum­ing cen­ter stage in world affairs, and the forg­ing of an eco­nom­ic alliance with Rus­sia (fol­low­ing Russ­ian con­ces­sions on Ukraine) that will give “Cor­po­rate Ger­many” eco­nom­ic dom­i­na­tion over the Earth Island.

Our next arti­cle her­alds Mr. Emory’s prog­nos­ti­ca­tions. We do not feel Trump is nec­es­sar­i­ly con­scious of his role. In the age of mind con­trol, what goes on between a giv­en indi­vid­u­al’s ears is impos­si­ble to gauge, past a point.

Among the var­i­ous and sundry dis­as­trous out­comes of Trump’s poli­cies may well be a cyber-ter­ror­ist inci­dent from a nation-state actor or a lone male­fac­tor, this the result of a fed­er­al hir­ing freeze.

” . . . On his first offi­cial day in office after inau­gu­ra­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has made good on his plan to insti­tute a fed­er­al hir­ing freeze—part of his effort to slash the fed­er­al work­force. Details are sparse: Trump has said there would be excep­tions for the mil­i­tary, and a White House memo notes the freeze would be waived “when nec­es­sary to meet nation­al or pub­lic safe­ty respon­si­bil­i­ties.” Some experts fear a tem­po­rary hir­ing freeze could exac­er­bate a chron­ic prob­lem in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment: a wide­spread short­age of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty tal­ent. A hir­ing freeze could sig­nal to essen­tial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty talent—especially those who might con­sid­er join­ing the pub­lic sec­tor from high­er-pay­ing indus­try jobs—that there’s no need or desire for them in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, Alan Chvotkin, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Pro­fes­sion­al Ser­vices Coun­cil, told Nextgov. . . .”

Exem­pli­fy­ing a dis­con­nect that is sure to help bring our econ­o­my down, Labor Sec­re­tary Puzder lauds the val­ue of machines over humans. While he is cor­rect that machines do not do many things that he sees as counter-pro­duc­tive, he ignores the fact that machines don’t by food at Car­l’s Junior or Hard­ees, the food chains for which he is chief exec­u­tive. No machine has ever bought any­thing.

” . . . Fast food exec­u­tive Andrew Puzder, who Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is expect­ed to tap as labor sec­re­tary, has advo­cat­ed replac­ing some human work­ers with machines as a way for busi­ness­es to reduce costs asso­ci­at­ed with ris­ing wages and health-care expens­es. While machines require reg­u­lar main­te­nance and can some­times mal­func­tion, Puzder said, they are also eas­i­er to man­age than humans and don’t pose the same legal risks. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they nev­er take a vaca­tion, they nev­er show up late, there’s nev­er a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race dis­crim­i­na­tion case,” Puzder told Busi­ness Insid­er in March. Puzder serves as the chief exec­u­tive of CKE Restau­rants, the cor­po­rate par­ent behind fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. . . .”

When automa­tion, infla­tion of the price of con­sumer goods that are import­ed and have had tar­iffs slapped on them by “The Don­ald,” lack of health care forc­ing work­ing peo­ple to devote increas­ing­ly scarce resources toward main­tain­ing their and/or their fam­i­lies’ health, the sub­ver­sion of min­i­mum wage, over­time and union­iza­tion laws and statutes and increas­ing con­cen­tra­tion of eco­nom­ic own­er­ship have brought Amer­i­can con­sumers to their knees, our con­sumer-based econ­o­my will col­lapse.

Last­ly, we note some­thing that her­alds poor­ly for the response of the Amer­i­can peo­ple to the chaos that is sure to enve­lope this coun­try after the envi­ron­men­tal, eco­nom­ic and social chaos that will inevitably result from Trump’s roll­back of decades of nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tion, enor­mous bud­get deficits from the GOP’s tax cuts, neu­tral­iza­tion of decades of progress on health care and roll­back of the New Deal.

With Bet­sy De Vos appoint­ed as Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion, the already dis­mal, fright­en­ing civic aware­ness of our pub­lic school stu­dents fig­ures to get worse. In and of itself, that is cause for extreme pes­simism.

As our soci­ety dis­in­te­grates from the inter­play of var­i­ous eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary fac­tors, the calls for “some­one to do some­thing” to repair our dys­func­tion­al soci­ety are like­ly to increase expo­nen­tial­ly.

“. . . . When, 2011, the World Val­ues Sur­vey asked US cit­i­zens in their late teens and ear­ly 20s whether democ­ra­cy was a good way to run a coun­try, about a quar­ter said it was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad,’ an increase of one-third since the late 1990s. Among cit­i­zens of all ages, 1 in 6 now say in would be fine for the ‘army to rule,’ up from 1 in 16 in 1995. In a dif­fer­ent nation­al sur­vey, about two-thirds of Amer­i­cans could not name all three branch­es of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment or which par­ty con­trolled the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. In a third study, almost half of the respon­dents said the gov­ern­ment should be per­mit­ted to pro­hib­it a peace­ful march. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

1. The thrust of the broad­cast is that the ascen­sion of Trump–an Amer­i­can Caligula–is indeed the end of what Hen­ry Luce called “The Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry.” The author is a for­mer edi­tor for Time mag­a­zine and a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cer, so his lit­er­al take on Luce’s pro­nounce­ment is not sur­pris­ing.

What Sten­gel is talk­ing about is the end of “Brand Amer­i­ca,” to coin a phrase–the suc­cess­ful PR mar­ket­ing of this coun­try as the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, etc.

That polit­i­cal mythol­o­gy, which com­pelled much of Mr. Emory’s ini­tial involve­ment in this research when he began in the ear­ly ’70s, will evap­o­rate. That dis­si­pa­tion, how­ev­er, will be eclipsed by the dev­as­tat­ing eco­nom­ic, envi­ron­men­tal, social and polit­i­cal dev­as­ta­tion that will sure­ly fol­low Trump’s poli­cies.

“The End of the Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry” by Richard Sten­gel; The Atlantic; 1/26/2017.

The inau­gur­al address of Don­ald Trump did not con­tain the word jus­tice or coop­er­a­tion or ideals or morals or truth or char­i­ty. It has only one ref­er­ence to free­dom. It did men­tion car­nage and crime and tomb­stones and a vari­ety of words nev­er uttered before in a pres­i­den­tial inau­gur­al. Since then, the pres­i­dent has dou­bled-down on his desire to build a wall on America’s South­ern bor­der and has said his admin­is­tra­tion will re-eval­u­ate accept­ing refugees from des­ig­nat­ed Mus­lim coun­tries and cut back by half the rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of refugees accept­ed by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. I spent sev­en years as edi­tor of Time before I worked in the State Depart­ment as under sec­re­tary for pub­lic diplo­ma­cy and pub­lic affairs. While I was edi­tor of Time, I nev­er want­ed to be the first of Luce’s suc­ces­sors to pro­nounce the end of the Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry. In part, this was because of a mis­un­der­stand­ing of the term. Most peo­ple thought it meant Amer­i­can pow­er or hege­mo­ny and there was not much diminu­tion in America’s glob­al pow­er. What it real­ly means is Amer­i­ca as a glob­al mod­el and guar­an­tor of free­dom and rule of law and fair­ness.

Trump ’s admin­is­tra­tion is the death knell of the Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry. . . .

2. As Mr. Emory fore­cast in FTR #‘s 918 and 919, among oth­er pro­grams in the “Trumpenkampfver­bande” series, Trump’s anti-NATO rhetoric and gen­er­al dis­parag­ing of the Atlanti­cist alliances that have held sway dur­ing the bet­ter part of “The Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry” are focused on pre­cip­i­tat­ing the Under­ground Reich goals of: an all-EU army replac­ing NATO, a Ger­man-dom­i­nate Europe  assum­ing cen­ter stage in world affairs, and the forg­ing of an eco­nom­ic alliance with Rus­sia (fol­low­ing Russ­ian con­ces­sions on Ukraine) that will give “Cor­po­rate Ger­many” eco­nom­ic dom­i­na­tion over the Earth Island.

This arti­cle her­alds Mr. Emory’s prog­nos­ti­ca­tions. We do not feel Trump is nec­es­sar­i­ly con­scious of his role. In the age of mind con­trol, what goes on between a giv­en indi­vid­u­al’s ears is impos­si­ble to gauge, past a point.

“The Moment of the Euro­peans;” german-foreign-policy.com; 1/18/2017.

Ger­many’s top politi­cians are call­ing on the EU to close ranks behind Europe’s “cen­tral pow­er,” Ger­many, fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent-Elect Don­ald Trump’s recent dec­la­ra­tions in an inter­view. Trump sug­gest­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of “deals” with Rus­sia, pre­dict­ed the fur­ther dis­in­te­gra­tion of the EU and point­ed to Ger­many’s dom­i­nant role with­in the EU. A new Russ­ian-Amer­i­can world order is loom­ing, accord­ing to Elmar Brok (CDU), Chair­man of the Euro­pean Par­lia­men­t’s Com­mit­tee on For­eign Affairs, it is there­fore imper­a­tive that the EU “close ranks.” Ger­many’s For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier expressed a sim­i­lar opin­ion. Wolf­gang Ischinger, Chair­man of the Munich Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence, called for Russ­ian and US dis­ar­ma­ment and for enhanc­ing the EU’s mil­i­ta­riza­tion. He rec­om­mend­ed that “Ger­man nuclear arma­ment” not be dis­cussed — at least “at the moment.”

“Vehi­cle for Ger­many”

Don­ald Trump’s dec­la­ra­tions in a recent inter­view have pro­voked Berlin’s call for the EU to close ranks. In his inter­view with the Ger­man “Bild” and the British “Times,” Trump called NATO “obso­lete,” because only five mem­ber coun­tries are invest­ing the gen­er­al­ly agreed two per­cent of their respec­tive GDPs in their armed forces. He also sug­gest­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of “some good deals” with Rus­sia, hailed the Brex­it and pre­dict­ed that oth­er mem­bers would leave the EU. He also point­ed to Berlin’s dom­i­nant role in the EU — a fact that is no longer denied in Europe’s for­eign pol­i­cy estab­lish­ment. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1]) “You look at the Euro­pean Union, and it is Ger­many; basi­cal­ly, a vehi­cle for Ger­many,” Trump was quoted.[2]

Close Ranks on Mil­i­tary Pol­i­cy

The prospect that Wash­ing­ton under Trump could reach agree­ments with Moscow on inter­na­tion­al pol­i­cy issues with­out the EU — which, for years, has been crip­pled with cri­sis and actu­al­ly is fac­ing dis­in­te­gra­tion — has pro­voked indig­nant reac­tions from Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy mak­ers and appeals to close ranks. “If we fail now to close ranks in the field of secu­ri­ty and for­eign pol­i­cy, we will be faced with a new world order under Rus­si­a’s Pres­i­dent Putin and the new US Pres­i­dent Trump,” Elmar Brok, Chair­man of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Com­mit­tee on For­eign Affairs con­tend­ed on Monday.[3] Already at the begin­ning of the year, Wolf­gang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence had called for the EU to “speak more in uni­son in the future” and cer­tain­ly not in the “cacoph­o­ny of 27 or 28 Euro­pean heads of states and governments.”[4] Ger­many’s For­eign Min­is­ter — who will soon become Ger­many’s Pres­i­dent — Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier declared, fol­low­ing a meet­ing with his EU coun­ter­parts last Mon­day that it has “per­haps become again clear­er to one or the oth­er, just how impor­tant it is that Europe stands togeth­er and assumes com­mon positions.”[5] Brok pack­aged his plea for a pan-EU clos­ing of ranks into an appeal: “This is now the moment of the Europeans.”[6]

Dis­arm the Rivals

In Berlin, the con­tention is mak­ing the rounds that an even­tu­al rap­proche­ment between Wash­ing­ton and Moscow could be polit­i­cal­ly advan­ta­geous — not least of all to put the pow­er strug­gle over Ukraine on ice. This would per­mit a roll back of sanc­tions on Rus­sia and cre­ate new room for Ger­man com­pa­nies to make lucra­tive busi­ness deals with the East — with­out relin­quish­ing one’s own positions.[7] Thus, Ischinger alleges to have heard “coura­geous voic­es” in Kiev, who are pre­pared to forego mem­ber­ship in NATO. “A new US Pres­i­dent Trump could talk to Pres­i­dent Poroshenko in Kiev and Putin in Moscow and offer Ukraine secu­ri­ty guar­an­tees in exchange for renun­ci­a­tion of NATO mem­ber­ship,” explained the promi­nent diplomat.[8] It is also impor­tant that US-Russ­ian nego­ti­a­tions reach an agree­ment on a new round in arms con­trol. Dis­ar­ma­ment must be sought. “More trust must be estab­lished again between the mil­i­taries, between NATO and Rus­sia.” “I would make a plea for a round-the-clock joint­ly run cri­sis con­trol cen­ter on neu­tral ter­ri­to­ry.” Ischinger did not men­tion whether he would con­sid­er Ger­many a suit­able site.

Nev­er Again “No War!”

While call­ing for US and Russ­ian dis­ar­ma­ment, Ischinger speaks out also for the fur­ther mil­i­ta­riza­tion of Ger­man and EU pol­i­cy. “Putin” — mean­ing the con­flicts con­cern­ing Ukraine and Syr­ia — has clear­ly “demon­strat­ed, how absolute­ly wrong it is to con­tend that there can be no mil­i­tary solu­tions,” he explained. Because the EU did not open­ly inter­vene mil­i­tar­i­ly, “we, Euro­peans, ... have once again been banned to the side­lines — a spec­ta­tor posi­tion — which is not the appro­pri­ate role for the EU, the world’s largest trad­ing and eco­nom­ic pow­er, with a pop­u­la­tion of 500 million.”[9] He “would like to see” that “no respon­si­ble Ger­man politi­cian” will repeat the sen­tence, “there can be no mil­i­tary solu­tions.” In fact, the EU is prepar­ing — under Ger­man pres­sure — a con­sid­er­able expan­sion of its for­eign pol­i­cy and mil­i­tary activ­i­ties. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) Even in transat­lantic rela­tions, there is “no guar­an­tee of coop­er­a­tion for eter­ni­ty with us Euro­peans,” declared Chan­cel­lor Merkel, last week.[11] That is why “Europe” must con­sid­er­ably expand it radius of polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary action.

The Ques­tion of the Bomb

Wolf­gang Ischinger has begun to take the ques­tion of “Ger­man nuclear arma­ment” into con­sid­er­a­tion. Cur­rent­ly, it is bet­ter to avoid a debate on the EU’s “own nuclear arse­nal,” the Ger­man diplo­mat declared. The nuclear pow­er Great Britain is leav­ing the EU, while the nuclear pow­er France is not “will­ing and capa­ble” of “Euro­peaniz­ing its nuclear poten­tial.” How­ev­er, “at the moment,” it would be “a polit­i­cal mis­take to debate an alter­na­tive of arm­ing Ger­many with nuclear weapons,” also “because we would pro­vide an argu­ment to crit­ics in Moscow and in Europe that the cen­tral pow­er Ger­many not only seeks to dom­i­nate Europe with finan­cial pol­i­cy, but also — in vio­la­tion of all treaties — joint con­trol over nuclear weapons.”[12] Ischinger did not elab­o­rate on what con­di­tions could inval­i­date his argu­ment of tem­po­ral lim­i­ta­tion (“at the moment”), nor did he express con­clu­sive argu­ments against Ger­many’s acquir­ing nuclear weapons.

[1] See Lead­ing from the Cen­ter.
[2] Trump: “Merkel-Asylpoli­tik ein schlim­mer Fehler”. www.krone.at 16.01.2017.
[3] “Wir müssen auf das Schlimm­ste gefasst sein”. www.welt.de 17.01.2017.
[4] “Max­i­male Unberechen­barkeit”. www.swr.de 03.01.2016.
[5] Außen­min­is­ter Stein­meier nach dem EU-Außen­rat. Pressemit­teilung des Auswär­ti­gen Amts. Berlin, 16.01.2017.
[6] “Wir müssen auf das Schlimm­ste gefasst sein”. www.welt.de 17.01.2017.
[7] See Ost­geschäfte and Rever­sal of Busi­ness Trend with Rus­sia.
[8], [9] Daniel-Dylan Böh­mer, Thorsten Jung­holt: “Frau Merkel muss sich warm anziehen”. www.welt.de 13.01.2017.
[10] See The Euro­pean War Union, Strate­gis­che Autonomie and Shock as Oppor­tu­ni­ty.
[11] Merkel: Keine “Ewigkeits­garantie” für Unter­stützung Europas durch die USA. www.welt.de 12.01.2017.
[12] Daniel-Dylan Böh­mer, Thorsten Jung­holt: “Frau Merkel muss sich warm anziehen”. www.welt.de 13.01.2017.

3. Among the var­i­ous and sundry dis­as­trous out­comes of Trump’s poli­cies may well be a cyber-ter­ror­ist inci­dent from a nation-state actor or a lone male­fac­tor, this the result of a fed­er­al hir­ing freeze.

“What Does Trump’s Hir­ing Freeze Mean for Fed­er­al Cyber Short­age?” by Mohana Ravin­dranath; Nextgov; 1/24/2017.

On his first offi­cial day in office after inau­gu­ra­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has made good on his plan to insti­tute a fed­er­al hir­ing freeze—part of his effort to slash the fed­er­al work­force. 

Details are sparse: Trump has said there would be excep­tions for the mil­i­tary, and a White House memo notes the freeze would be waived “when nec­es­sary to meet nation­al or pub­lic safe­ty respon­si­bil­i­ties.”

Some experts fear a tem­po­rary hir­ing freeze could exac­er­bate a chron­ic prob­lem in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment: a wide­spread short­age of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty tal­ent.

A hir­ing freeze could sig­nal to essen­tial cyber­se­cu­ri­ty talent—especially those who might con­sid­er join­ing the pub­lic sec­tor from high­er-pay­ing indus­try jobs—that there’s no need or desire for them in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, Alan Chvotkin, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Pro­fes­sion­al Ser­vices Coun­cil, told Nextgov. . . .

5. Exem­pli­fy­ing a dis­con­nect that is sure to help bring our econ­o­my down, Labor Sec­re­tary Puzder lauds the val­ue of machines over humans. While he is cor­rect that machines do not do many things that he sees as counter-pro­duc­tive, he ignores the fact that machines don’t by food at Car­l’s Junior or Hard­ees, the food chains for which he is chief exec­u­tive. No machine has ever bought any­thing.

When automa­tion, infla­tion of the price of con­sumer goods that are import­ed and have had tar­iffs slapped on them by “The Don­ald,” lack of health care forc­ing work­ing peo­ple to devote increas­ing­ly scarce resources toward main­tain­ing their and/or their fam­i­lies’ health, the sub­ver­sion of min­i­mum wage, over­time and union­iza­tion laws and statutes and increas­ing con­cen­tra­tion of eco­nom­ic own­er­ship have brought Amer­i­can con­sumers to their knees, our con­sumer-based econ­o­my will col­lapse.

“Don­ald Trump’s Pick for Labor Sec­re­tary Has Said Machines Are Cheap­er, Eas­i­er to Man­age than Humans” by Steven Over­ly; The Wash­ing­ton Post ; 12/8/2016.

Fast food exec­u­tive Andrew Puzder, who Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is expect­ed to tap as labor sec­re­tary, has advo­cat­ed replac­ing some human work­ers with machines as a way for busi­ness­es to reduce costs asso­ci­at­ed with ris­ing wages and health-care expens­es.

While machines require reg­u­lar main­te­nance and can some­times mal­func­tion, Puzder said, they are also eas­i­er to man­age than humans and don’t pose the same legal risks. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they nev­er take a vaca­tion, they nev­er show up late, there’s nev­er a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race dis­crim­i­na­tion case,” Puzder told Busi­ness Insid­er in March.

Puzder serves as the chief exec­u­tive of CKE Restau­rants, the cor­po­rate par­ent behind fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. . . .

6. With Bet­sy De Vos appoint­ed as Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion, the already dis­mal, fright­en­ing civic aware­ness of our pub­lic school stu­dents fig­ures to get worse. In and of itself, that is cause for extreme pes­simism.

As our soci­ety dis­in­te­grates from the inter­play of var­i­ous eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary fac­tors, the calls for “some­one to do some­thing” to repair our dys­func­tion­al soci­ety are like­ly to increase expo­nen­tial­ly.

“Bul­ly Pul­pit” by Kristi­na Riz­ca; Moth­er Jones; January/February 2017.

. . . . When, 2011, the World Val­ues Sur­vey asked US cit­i­zens in their late teens and ear­ly 20s whether democ­ra­cy was a good way to run a coun­try, about a quar­ter said it was “bad” or “very bad,” an increase of one-third since the late 1990s. Among cit­i­zens of all ages, 1 in 6 now say in would be fine for the “army to rule,” up from 1 in 16 in 1995. In a dif­fer­ent nation­al sur­vey, about two-thirds of Amer­i­cans could not name all three branch­es of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment or which par­ty con­trolled the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. In a third study, almost half of the respon­dents said the gov­ern­ment should be per­mit­ted to pro­hib­it a peace­ful march. . . .

Discussion

17 comments for “FTR #944 Fireside Rant: WTF Is Going On? The Caligulization of America and the End of the American Century”

  1. Here’s a reminder of how the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s embrace of pol­i­tics of xeno­pho­bia and open loathing of ‘for­eign­ers’ isn’t just an attack on the US’s inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion and “soft pow­er” abil­i­ty to influ­ence the world. As the psy­cho­log­i­cal effects of Trump’s “Mus­lim ban”, and broad­er ‘for­eign­ers get out, we hate you!’ agen­da takes hold and reduces the pool of inter­na­tion­al stu­dents inter­est­ed in study­ing the US, all of that for­eign mon­ey for US uni­ver­si­ties is going to fall too. And it’s mon­ey that’s effec­tive­ly sub­si­diz­ing US stu­dents since the for­eign stu­dents tend to pay in full:

    Busi­ness Insid­er

    Inter­na­tion­al stu­dents are now ‘sub­si­diz­ing’ pub­lic Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties to the tune of $9 bil­lion a year

    Tan­za Louden­back
    Sep. 16, 2016, 12:02 PM

    Near­ly 1 mil­lion inter­na­tion­al stu­dents study at col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties across the Unit­ed States, up 40% from a decade ago.

    These stu­dents are head­ing state­side to gain access to the best high­er edu­ca­tion in the worldand they’re pay­ing top dol­lar for it.

    In fact, recent data from Self­S­core, a com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing finan­cial ser­vices to inter­na­tion­al stu­dents, reveals that for­eign stu­dents pay up to three times more than in-state stu­dents at pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties, “effec­tive­ly sub­si­diz­ing tuition costs for domes­tic stu­dents and func­tion­ing as a bailout for uni­ver­si­ties.”

    Inter­na­tion­al stu­dents are cru­cial to the US econ­o­my in two pri­ma­ry ways: They’re financ­ing a chunk of edu­ca­tion costs for pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties and their domes­tic stu­dents, and they’re fuel­ing the US tech indus­try.

    The data sug­gests the rela­tion­ship between US pub­lic col­leges and for­eign stu­dents grows increas­ing­ly inter­de­pen­dent.

    In 2015, the coun­try’s pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties gleaned more than $9 bil­lion in tuition and fees from for­eign stu­dents, accord­ing to Self­S­core’s analy­sis. That’s about 28% of annu­al tuition rev­enue com­ing from for­eign stu­dents, who make up an aver­age of just 12% of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion. Pri­vate insti­tu­tions are no excep­tion to enrolling high num­bers of inter­na­tion­al stu­dents, but data is more dif­fi­cult to come by, and their tuition costs will vary less stu­dent-to-stu­dent.

    At Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty, the pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty with the largest num­ber of inter­na­tion­al stu­dents (10,678 stu­dents, or about 14% of the total stu­dent pop­u­la­tion), in-state under­grad­u­ates pay $10,370, non-Ari­zona res­i­dent under­grad­u­ates pay $26,470, and inter­na­tion­al under­grad­u­ates pay $28,270 in base tuition and fees for the 2016–17 aca­d­e­m­ic year.

    On top of pay­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er tuition costs, inter­na­tion­al stu­dents are large­ly pay­ing out of pock­et for their edu­ca­tion at pub­lic col­leges. Accord­ing to Self­S­core, Amer­i­can banks don’t rec­og­nize for­eign stu­dents’ cred­it his­to­ries often until after they’ve grad­u­at­ed and entered the US labor mar­ket, dis­abling them from secur­ing finan­cial aid or stu­dent loans.

    About 72% of fund­ing for inter­na­tion­al col­lege stu­dents comes from per­son­al and fam­i­ly funds, as well as home coun­try gov­ern­ment or uni­ver­si­ty assis­tance, accord­ing to the US Com­merce and Edu­ca­tion depart­ments.

    As of 2015, Chi­na, India, and South Korea sent the high­est num­bers of stu­dents to US col­leges. And they’re not only help­ing out col­leges and domes­tic stu­dents. In the 2014–15 aca­d­e­m­ic year, inter­na­tion­al stu­dent enroll­ment sup­port­ed about 373,300 total US jobs and con­tributed more than $30 bil­lion to the US econ­o­my.

    For­eign stu­dents are also fuel­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley

    Of the 974,926 for­eign under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dents study­ing in the US, about half are cur­rent­ly study­ing sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) top­ics, thus “cre­at­ing a sol­id pipeline of tal­ent for jobs in the US tech­nol­o­gy sec­tor,” writes Kalpesh Kapa­di­am, cofounder and CEO of Self­S­core, in an arti­cle for Tech Crunch.

    ...

    “In fact, recent data from Self­S­core, a com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing finan­cial ser­vices to inter­na­tion­al stu­dents, reveals that for­eign stu­dents pay up to three times more than in-state stu­dents at pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties, “effec­tive­ly sub­si­diz­ing tuition costs for domes­tic stu­dents and func­tion­ing as a bailout for uni­ver­si­ties.””

    Yeah, some­how it does­n’t seem like an open White Nation­al­ist admin­is­tra­tion is going to help with the recruit­ment of for­eign stu­dents. Espe­cial­ly after a “Mus­lim ban” of sev­en coun­tries that’s only like­ly to grow. And keep in mind that you almost could­n’t ask for a more effec­tive means of pro­ject­ing US “soft pow­er” than to have a bunch of stu­dents come to the US and gen­er­al­ly have a great expe­ri­ence and then tell their friends back home about it. And if they’re com­ing for a xeno­pho­bic soci­ety them­selves, hav­ing a great expe­ri­ence in an envi­ron­ment that pro­motes and respects diver­si­ty is basi­cal­ly PR gold.

    But it looks like the US does­n’t want that PR gold any­more. Or the effec­tive sub­sidy for Amer­i­can stu­dent. Hope­ful­ly Trump and the GOP Con­gress are at least plan­ning on increas­ing funds to sub­si­dize Amer­i­can stu­dents. LOL!

    All that said, there is one area of study where we could see a surge of inter­na­tion­al for­eign stu­dent inter­est: Bible study:

    NBC News

    Jer­ry Fal­well Jr. Asked to Lead Trump High­er Edu­ca­tion Task Force

    by Alex John­son

    Jan 31 2017, 9:43 pm ET

    Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty Pres­i­dent Jer­ry Fal­well Jr., one of the nation’s most promi­nent evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian lead­ers, has been asked to head a White House task force on reform­ing the U.S. high­er edu­ca­tion sys­tem, the Vir­ginia col­lege told NBC News on Tues­day night.

    Len Stevens, the uni­ver­si­ty’s chief spokesman, told NBC News that Fal­well would bring a focus on “over­reg­u­la­tion and micro­man­age­ment of high­er edu­ca­tion” to the task force.

    Fal­well was­n’t imme­di­ate­ly avail­able for com­ment Tues­day evening. In the past, he has argued that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment impos­es too many reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing accred­i­ta­tion and financ­ing of U.S. col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.

    Fal­well is a lawyer and the son of the pri­vate evan­gel­i­cal col­lege’s founder, the Rev. Jer­ry Fal­well, co-founder of the Moral Major­i­ty and an archi­tect of the con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian polit­i­cal move­ment that helped pro­pel Ronald Rea­gan to the pres­i­den­cy in 1980.

    He has said he was offered the posi­tion of edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion late last year but declined because he want­ed to stay close to his fam­i­ly in Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia, where the uni­ver­si­ty is based. He enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly endorsed Trump’s even­tu­al nom­i­nee, Bet­sy DeVos.

    Fal­well was one of the first major evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers to endorse Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, along with James Dob­son, founder of Fam­i­ly Talk Radio and the advo­ca­cy group Focus on the Fam­i­ly; Tony Perkins, pres­i­dent of the Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil; and Ralph Reed, chair­man of the Faith and Free­dom Coali­tion and for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor of evan­ge­list Pat Robert­son’s Chris­t­ian Coali­tion.

    ...

    Exit polling on Elec­tion Day indi­cat­ed that about 80 per­cent of white evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers sup­port­ed Trump, con­sis­tent with white evan­gel­i­cal sup­port for Repub­li­can can­di­dates for more than 30 years. (Black evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers, who his­tor­i­cal­ly are strong­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic, are gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered a sep­a­rate polit­i­cal demo­graph­ic in many polls.)

    He has said he was offered the posi­tion of edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion late last year but declined because he want­ed to stay close to his fam­i­ly in Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia, where the uni­ver­si­ty is based. He enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly endorsed Trump’s even­tu­al nom­i­nee, Bet­sy DeVos.”

    Yep, Jer­ry Fal­well Jr. was Trump’s first pick to edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary. At least if he’s telling the truth, but con­sid­er­ing who Trump picked instead, Bet­sy DeVoss, it’s not like it’s unimag­in­able to Fal­well was the first pick. So that almost hap­pened. And now, instead, Fal­well is appar­ent­ly going to head­ing up some sort of high­er edu­ca­tion task force. So if you’re a stu­dent inter­est­ed in study­ing reli­gion the Bible, things are pre­sum­ably going to be look­ing up for reli­gious schools. Espe­cial­ly real­ly crap­py reli­gious schools that can’t cur­rent get any sort of accred­i­ta­tion:

    ...
    Fal­well was­n’t imme­di­ate­ly avail­able for com­ment Tues­day evening. In the past, he has argued that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment impos­es too many reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing accred­i­ta­tion and financ­ing of U.S. col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.
    ...

    But don’t assume Fal­well will just be out to help plac­ers like his own Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty. He’s got a much big­ger group of col­leges he’s going to be cham­pi­oning: for-prof­it schools with high rates of stu­dent defaults and use­less diplo­mas:

    The New York Times

    With Fal­well as Edu­ca­tion Advis­er, His Own Col­lege Could Ben­e­fit

    Kevin Carey
    FEB. 1, 2017

    On Tues­day, The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion report­ed that Jer­ry Fal­well Jr., pres­i­dent of Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty, would lead a Trump admin­is­tra­tion task force charged with dereg­u­lat­ing Amer­i­can high­er edu­ca­tion.

    In describ­ing his goals, Mr. Fal­well focused on rolling back a series of ini­tia­tives that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion viewed as pre­vent­ing abus­es by preda­to­ry for-prof­it col­leges. “The goal is to pare it back and give col­leges and their accred­it­ing agen­cies more lee­way in gov­ern­ing their affairs,” Mr. Fal­well told a Chron­i­cle reporter.

    One non­prof­it uni­ver­si­ty that could ben­e­fit from this kind of reg­u­la­to­ry retrench­ment is Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty itself.

    In describ­ing his goals, Mr. Fal­well allud­ed to two Oba­ma ini­tia­tives: tight­ened stan­dards for accred­it­ing orga­ni­za­tions that grant col­leges access to fed­er­al finan­cial aid, and new reg­u­la­tions that gov­ern how stu­dents who have been cheat­ed by fraud­u­lent col­leges can have their stu­dent loans for­giv­en.

    The Oba­ma accred­i­ta­tion stan­dards were used last sum­mer to shut down the accred­it­ing orga­ni­za­tion that over­saw the cor­po­rate chains ITT Tech and Corinthi­an Col­leges, both of which col­lapsed in bank­rupt­cy after mul­ti­ple alle­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing. The same orga­ni­za­tion over­saw numer­ous oth­er for-prof­it schools with a his­to­ry of high stu­dent loan default rates and deceit.

    The Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion then cre­at­ed new reg­u­la­tions to aid stu­dents who had been left hold­ing large loan bal­ances and worth­less diplo­mas. In addi­tion to grant­i­ng those stu­dents debt relief, the depart­ment cre­at­ed new col­lege per­for­mance stan­dards, devised to pre­vent future fraud from occur­ring.

    Some fraud­u­lent col­leges made enor­mous sums of mon­ey by enrolling tens of thou­sands of stu­dents online — an approach that can pro­vide many ben­e­fits when done well, but also cre­ates poten­tial for abuse.

    It makes sense that Pres­i­dent Trump would turn to Mr. Fal­well for advice in this area. Lib­er­ty Uni­ver­si­ty pro­vid­ed a promi­nent plat­form for Mr. Trump to reach evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians ear­ly in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry cam­paign. (It’s where he gave the “Two Corinthi­ans” speech.)

    And Lib­er­ty, at first glance, isn’t in the same cat­e­go­ry as for-prof­it col­leges. It enrolls about 14,000 stu­dents, most of whom are evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians, at its res­i­den­tial cam­pus in Lynch­burg, Va. But it also enrolls an addi­tion­al 65,000 stu­dents online. Most col­leges now have a mix of res­i­den­tial and online stu­dents, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online stu­dents as res­i­den­tial stu­dents.

    Because inter­net cours­es are inex­pen­sive to deliv­er at scale, the online divi­sion is a huge rev­enue dri­ver for Lib­er­ty, which brought in $591 mil­lion in tuition in 2013, against $470 mil­lion in expens­es. Lib­er­ty is essen­tial­ly a medi­um-size non­prof­it col­lege that owns an enor­mous for-prof­it col­lege.

    The giant for-prof­it Uni­ver­si­ty of Phoenix enrolls more online stu­dents (over 100,000) than any oth­er col­lege. And the sec­ond-largest online enroll­ment? Lib­er­ty. Finan­cial­ly, the main dif­fer­ence between Lib­er­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Phoenix is that Lib­er­ty doesn’t pay tax­es. Liberty’s mar­ket­ing and recruit­ment are dri­ven by an 800-per­son tele­mar­ket­ing call cen­ter locat­ed in a for­mer Sears depart­ment store near the main cam­pus.

    Most of the tuition for Liberty’s online stu­dents comes from finan­cial aid pro­vid­ed by the fed­er­al Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, the same body that Mr. Fal­well says is engaged in “over­reach­ing reg­u­la­tion.”

    In 2015, Lib­er­ty received $347 mil­lion from fed­er­al under­grad­u­ate grant and loan pro­grams. Few oth­er pri­vate non­prof­it col­leges receive any­thing like that sum. To put the amount in per­spec­tive, the high­ly regard­ed Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia, a near­by state uni­ver­si­ty, received $37 mil­lion from the same sources that year. Ari­zona State, the nation’s largest pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty, received $169 mil­lion. Liberty’s con­sid­er­able finan­cial suc­cess — it has built a $1 bil­lion cash reserve, and Mr. Fal­well is paid more than $900,000 a year — was under­writ­ten large­ly by the fed­er­al tax­pay­er.

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many Lib­er­ty stu­dents are strug­gling to pay back their fed­er­al loans. Around 9 per­cent default with­in three years of grad­u­at­ing, ruin­ing their cred­it rat­ings and cre­at­ing finan­cial bur­dens that are near­ly impos­si­ble to dis­charge in bank­rupt­cy. Among all pri­vate non­prof­it four-year col­leges, the aver­age default rate is 6.5 per­cent.

    Most Lib­er­ty stu­dents avoid default, but many are mak­ing no progress in reduc­ing their loan bal­ances. Only 38 per­cent of Lib­er­ty bor­row­ers man­age to pay down as lit­tle as one dol­lar on their stu­dent loan prin­ci­pal with­in three years of leav­ing school. This is prob­a­bly because many strug­gle to land well-pay­ing jobs. Forty-one per­cent of for­mer Lib­er­ty stu­dents earn less than $25,000 per year — the typ­i­cal salary for peo­ple with only a high school diplo­ma at age 25 — six years after enter­ing col­lege.

    The Oba­ma administration’s bor­row­er pro­tec­tions require for-prof­it col­leges with loan repay­ment rates below 50 per­cent to promi­nent­ly note this fact, like lung can­cer warn­ings on the side of a cig­a­rette pack­age, in pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als. The label must read, ver­ba­tim, “U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Warn­ing: A major­i­ty of recent stu­dent loan bor­row­ers at this school are not pay­ing down their loans.”

    Because it is tech­ni­cal­ly a non­prof­it (albeit a very prof­itable one), Lib­er­ty is exempt from these rules. But the fact remains that Mr. Fal­well seems bent on repeal­ing reg­u­la­tions that, in the stan­dards they set for min­i­mal­ly accept­able results, paint his own uni­ver­si­ty in a bad light. And because it is exempt from for-prof­it reg­u­la­tions, Lib­er­ty is ulti­mate­ly account­able only to state reg­u­la­tors and the college’s accred­it­ing orga­ni­za­tion.

    ...

    In describ­ing his goals, Mr. Fal­well focused on rolling back a series of ini­tia­tives that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion viewed as pre­vent­ing abus­es by preda­to­ry for-prof­it col­leges. “The goal is to pare it back and give col­leges and their accred­it­ing agen­cies more lee­way in gov­ern­ing their affairs,” Mr. Fal­well told a Chron­i­cle reporter.

    More free­dom for for-prof­it schools to fleece stu­dents! Yay. This should do won­ders for US high­er edu­ca­tion.

    But note that Fal­well’s plan does sort of cre­ate a path for US uni­ver­si­ties to main­tain high lev­els of for­eign stu­dent enroll­ment despite Trump’s grow­ing ‘for­eign­ers out!’ agen­da: By cham­pi­oning for-prof­it online uni­ver­si­ties, all those stu­dents who are either banned from enter­ing the US or sim­ply don’t want to go to a coun­try that offi­cial­ly hates them can instead enroll online. For a degree that would­n’t have been accred­it­ed before but will be soon. For prof­it. And per­haps a bit of usury. Soon to be legal usury:

    ...
    In describ­ing his goals, Mr. Fal­well allud­ed to two Oba­ma ini­tia­tives: tight­ened stan­dards for accred­it­ing orga­ni­za­tions that grant col­leges access to fed­er­al finan­cial aid, and new reg­u­la­tions that gov­ern how stu­dents who have been cheat­ed by fraud­u­lent col­leges can have their stu­dent loans for­giv­en.

    ...

    The Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion then cre­at­ed new reg­u­la­tions to aid stu­dents who had been left hold­ing large loan bal­ances and worth­less diplo­mas. In addi­tion to grant­i­ng those stu­dents debt relief, the depart­ment cre­at­ed new col­lege per­for­mance stan­dards, devised to pre­vent future fraud from occur­ring.

    Some fraud­u­lent col­leges made enor­mous sums of mon­ey by enrolling tens of thou­sands of stu­dents online — an approach that can pro­vide many ben­e­fits when done well, but also cre­ates poten­tial for abuse.

    ...

    And Lib­er­ty, at first glance, isn’t in the same cat­e­go­ry as for-prof­it col­leges. It enrolls about 14,000 stu­dents, most of whom are evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians, at its res­i­den­tial cam­pus in Lynch­burg, Va. But it also enrolls an addi­tion­al 65,000 stu­dents online. Most col­leges now have a mix of res­i­den­tial and online stu­dents, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online stu­dents as res­i­den­tial stu­dents.

    Because inter­net cours­es are inex­pen­sive to deliv­er at scale, the online divi­sion is a huge rev­enue dri­ver for Lib­er­ty, which brought in $591 mil­lion in tuition in 2013, against $470 mil­lion in expens­es. Lib­er­ty is essen­tial­ly a medi­um-size non­prof­it col­lege that owns an enor­mous for-prof­it col­lege.

    The giant for-prof­it Uni­ver­si­ty of Phoenix enrolls more online stu­dents (over 100,000) than any oth­er col­lege. And the sec­ond-largest online enroll­ment? Lib­er­ty. Finan­cial­ly, the main dif­fer­ence between Lib­er­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Phoenix is that Lib­er­ty doesn’t pay tax­es. Liberty’s mar­ket­ing and recruit­ment are dri­ven by an 800-per­son tele­mar­ket­ing call cen­ter locat­ed in a for­mer Sears depart­ment store near the main cam­pus.
    ...

    So there we go: while Trump’s Mus­lim ban might be the start of a new peri­od of an offi­cial­ly sanc­tioned ‘we hate your for­eign­ers, go away!’ US gov­ern­ment atti­tude seem­ing­ly designed to send for­eign stu­dents else­where, at least some of those stu­dents will still be able to study in the US. At a preda­to­ry for-prof­it online uni­ver­si­ty that issues pre­vi­ous­ly worth­less diplo­mas.

    #MAGA

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2017, 4:08 pm
  2. Not that we need­ed anoth­er reminder that the Team Trump is also Team Neo-Nazi, but Team Neo-Nazi decid­ed to give us anoth­er reminder any­way, so here it is:

    Reuters

    Exclu­sive: Trump to focus counter-extrem­ism pro­gram sole­ly on Islam — sources

    By Julia Edwards Ains­ley, Dustin Volz and Kristi­na Cooke | WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO
    Wed Feb 1, 2017 | 8:10pm EST

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion wants to revamp and rename a U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­gram designed to counter all vio­lent ide­olo­gies so that it focus­es sole­ly on Islamist extrem­ism, five peo­ple briefed on the mat­ter told Reuters.

    The pro­gram, “Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Coun­ter­ing Islam­ic Extrem­ism” or “Coun­ter­ing Rad­i­cal Islam­ic Extrem­ism,” the sources said, and would no longer tar­get groups such as white suprema­cists who have also car­ried out bomb­ings and shoot­ings in the Unit­ed States.

    Such a change would reflect Trump’s elec­tion cam­paign rhetoric and crit­i­cism of for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma for being weak in the fight against Islam­ic State and for refus­ing to use the phrase “rad­i­cal Islam” in describ­ing it. Islam­ic State has claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for attacks on civil­ians in sev­er­al coun­tries.

    The CVE pro­gram aims to deter groups or poten­tial lone attack­ers through com­mu­ni­ty part­ner­ships and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams or counter-mes­sag­ing cam­paigns in coop­er­a­tion with com­pa­nies such as Google (GOOGL.O) and Face­book (FB.O).

    Some pro­po­nents of the pro­gram fear that rebrand­ing it could make it more dif­fi­cult for the gov­ern­ment to work with Mus­lims already hes­i­tant to trust the new admin­is­tra­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly after Trump issued an exec­u­tive order last Fri­day tem­porar­i­ly block­ing trav­el to the Unit­ed States from sev­en pre­dom­i­nant­ly Mus­lim coun­tries.

    Still, the CVE pro­gram, which focus­es on U.S. res­i­dents and is sep­a­rate from a mil­i­tary effort to fight extrem­ism online, has been crit­i­cized even by some sup­port­ers as inef­fec­tive.

    A source who has worked close­ly with the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) on the pro­gram said Trump tran­si­tion team mem­bers first met with a CVE task force in Decem­ber and float­ed the idea of chang­ing the name and focus.

    In a meet­ing last Thurs­day attend­ed by senior staff for DHS Sec­re­tary John Kel­ly, gov­ern­ment employ­ees were asked to defend why they chose cer­tain com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions as recip­i­ents of CVE pro­gram grants, said the source, who request­ed anonymi­ty because of the sen­si­tive nature of the dis­cus­sions.

    Although CVE fund­ing has been appro­pri­at­ed by Con­gress and the grant recip­i­ents were noti­fied in the final days of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, the mon­ey still may not go out the door, the source said, adding that Kel­ly is review­ing the mat­ter.

    The depart­ment declined com­ment. The White House did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    PROGRAM CRITICIZED

    Some Repub­li­cans in Con­gress have long assailed the pro­gram as polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect and inef­fec­tive, assert­ing that sin­gling out and using the term “rad­i­cal Islam” as the trig­ger for many vio­lent attacks would help focus deter­rence efforts.

    Oth­ers counter that brand­ing the prob­lem as “rad­i­cal Islam” would only serve to alien­ate more than three mil­lion Amer­i­cans who prac­tice Islam peace­ful­ly.

    Many com­mu­ni­ty groups, mean­while, had already been cau­tious about the pro­gram, part­ly over con­cerns that it could dou­ble as a sur­veil­lance tool for law enforce­ment.

    Hoda Hawa, direc­tor of pol­i­cy for the Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil, said she was told last week by peo­ple with­in DHS that there was a push to refo­cus the CVE effort from tack­ling all vio­lent ide­ol­o­gy to only Islamist extrem­ism.

    “That is con­cern­ing for us because they are tar­get­ing a faith group and cast­ing it under a net of sus­pi­cion,” she said.

    Anoth­er source famil­iar with the mat­ter was told last week by a DHS offi­cial that a name change would take place. Three oth­er sources, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said such plans had been dis­cussed but were unable to attest whether they had been final­ized.

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion sought to fos­ter rela­tion­ships with com­mu­ni­ty groups to engage them in the coun­tert­er­ror­ism effort. In 2016, Con­gress appro­pri­at­ed $10 mil­lion in grants for CVE efforts and DHS award­ed the first round of grants on Jan. 13, a week before Trump was inau­gu­rat­ed.

    Among those approved were local gov­ern­ments, city police depart­ments, uni­ver­si­ties and non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. In addi­tion to orga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cat­ed to com­bat­ing Islam­ic State’s recruit­ment in the Unit­ed States, grants also went to Life After Hate, which reha­bil­i­tates for­mer neo-Nazis and oth­er domes­tic extrem­ists.

    Just in the past two years, author­i­ties blamed rad­i­cal and vio­lent ide­olo­gies as the motives for a white suprema­cist’s shoot­ing ram­page inside a his­toric African-Amer­i­can church in Charleston, South Car­oli­na and Islamist mil­i­tants for shoot­ings and bomb­ings in Cal­i­for­nia, Flori­da and New York.

    ...

    “The pro­gram, “Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Coun­ter­ing Islam­ic Extrem­ism” or “Coun­ter­ing Rad­i­cal Islam­ic Extrem­ism,” the sources said, and would no longer tar­get groups such as white suprema­cists who have also car­ried out bomb­ings and shoot­ings in the Unit­ed States.

    And in oth­er news, a far-right Trump fan shot up a mosque in Que­bec, killing 6 and wound­ing 8 oth­ers. But that, of course, was in Cana­da. It could nev­er hap­pen in Amer­i­ca. Again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2017, 7:04 pm
  3. News today is Supreme Court nom­i­nee Gor­such’s found­ing of the Fas­cism For­ev­er Club while enrolled at his pri­vate George­town prep school.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4182852/Trump-s-SCOTUS-pick-founded-club-called-Fascism-Forever.html

    Just warms the heart, does­n’t it?

    Posted by Sampson | February 2, 2017, 7:26 am
  4. With Don­ald Trump once again attempt­ing to under­cut the author­i­ty of a fed­er­al judge who ruled against — the first time being Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel rul­ing against Trump in his Trump Uni­ver­si­ty fraud case and now Trump rail­ing” against the fed­er­al “so-called judge who tem­porar­i­ly blocked his 7‑country trav­el ban — along with his fir­ing of act­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sal­ly Yates for her refusal to imple­ment that trav­el van, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that the cur­rent fight over the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of Trump’s trav­el ban exec­u­tive order is going to be dwarfed by the future fights tucked away his immi­gra­tion-relat­ed exec­u­tive orders. Like the order that could see 8 mil­lion undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants deport­ed for every­thing from let­ting their kids eat a free school lunch, to using med­ical ser­vices for the poor, or basi­cal­ly any rea­son an immi­gra­tion agent comes up with. Pos­si­bly involv­ing imme­di­ate depor­ta­tion with­out a hear­ing:

    The Los Ange­les Times

    8 mil­lion peo­ple could be deport­ed under Trump’s immi­gra­tion order

    By Bri­an Ben­net
    Feb­ru­ary 4, 2017, 12:00 PM

    When Pres­i­dent Trump ordered a vast over­haul of immi­gra­tion law enforce­ment dur­ing his first week in office, he stripped away most restric­tions on who should be deport­ed, open­ing the door for roundups and deten­tions on a scale not seen in near­ly a decade.

    Up to 8 mil­lion peo­ple in the coun­try ille­gal­ly could be con­sid­ered pri­or­i­ties for depor­ta­tion, accord­ing to cal­cu­la­tions by the Los Ange­les Times. They were based on inter­views with experts who stud­ied the order and two inter­nal doc­u­ments that sig­nal immi­gra­tion offi­cials are tak­ing an expan­sive view of Trump’s direc­tive.

    Far from tar­get­ing only “bad hom­bres,” as Trump has said repeat­ed­ly, his new order allows immi­gra­tion agents to detain near­ly any­one they come in con­tact with who has crossed the bor­der ille­gal­ly. Peo­ple could be booked into cus­tody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunch­es.

    The depor­ta­tion tar­gets are a much larg­er group than those swept up in the trav­el bans that sowed chaos at air­ports and seized pub­lic atten­tion over the past week. Few­er than 1 mil­lion peo­ple came to the U.S. over the past decade from the sev­en coun­tries from which most vis­i­tors are tem­porar­i­ly blocked.

    Depor­ta­tions of this scale, which has not been pub­licly totaled before, could have wide­ly felt con­se­quences: Fam­i­lies would be sep­a­rat­ed. Busi­ness­es cater­ing to immi­grant cus­tomers may be shut­tered. Crops could be left to rot, unpicked, as agri­cul­tur­al and oth­er indus­tries that rely on immi­grant work­forces face labor short­ages. U.S. rela­tions could be strained with coun­tries that stand to receive an influx of deport­ed peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Latin Amer­i­ca. Even the Social Secu­ri­ty sys­tem, which many immi­grants work­ing ille­gal­ly pay into under fake iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers, would take a hit.

    The new instruc­tions rep­re­sent a wide expan­sion of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s focus on deport­ing only recent arrivals, repeat immi­gra­tion vio­la­tors and peo­ple with mul­ti­ple crim­i­nal vio­la­tions. Under the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, only about 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple were con­sid­ered pri­or­i­ties for removal.

    “We are going back to enforce­ment chaos — they are going to give lip ser­vice to going after crim­i­nals, but they real­ly are going to round up every­body they can get their hands on,” said David Leopold, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Lawyers Assn. and an immi­gra­tion lawyer for more than two decades.

    Trump’s orders instruct offi­cers to deport not only those con­vict­ed of crimes, but also those who aren’t charged but are believed to have com­mit­ted “acts that con­sti­tute a charge­able crim­i­nal offense.”

    That cat­e­go­ry applies to the 6 mil­lion peo­ple believed to have entered the U.S. with­out pass­ing through an offi­cial bor­der cross­ing. The rest of the 11.1 mil­lion peo­ple in the coun­try ille­gal­ly, accord­ing to a study by the Pew Research Cen­ter, are believed to have entered on a valid visa and stayed past its expi­ra­tion date.

    Also among those 11.1 mil­lion are about 8 mil­lion job­hold­ers, Pew found. The vast major­i­ty have worked in vio­la­tion of the law by stat­ing on fed­er­al employ­ment forms that they were legal­ly allowed to work. Trump’s order calls for tar­get­ing any­one who lied on the forms.

    Trump’s depor­ta­tion pri­or­i­ties also include small­er groups whose totals remain elu­sive: peo­ple in the coun­try ille­gal­ly who are charged with crimes that have not yet been adju­di­cat­ed and those who receive an improp­er wel­fare ben­e­fit, used a fake iden­ti­ty card, were found dri­ving with­out a license or received fed­er­al food assis­tance.

    An addi­tion­al exec­u­tive order under con­sid­er­a­tion would block entry to any­one the U.S. believes may use ben­e­fit pro­grams such as Med­ic­aid and the Chil­dren’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram, accord­ing two Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials who have seen the draft order.

    The changes reflect an effort to deter ille­gal migra­tion by increas­ing the threat of depor­ta­tion and cut­ting off access to social ser­vices and work oppor­tu­ni­ties, an approach that 2012 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney called “self-depor­ta­tion.”

    The White House insist­ed that it is intent on root­ing out those who endan­ger Amer­i­cans. Trump aides point­ed to 124 peo­ple who were released from immi­gra­tion cus­tody from 2010 to 2015 who went on to be charged with mur­der, accord­ing to immi­gra­tion data pro­vid­ed to Con­gress by U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment.

    “It’s not that 6 mil­lion peo­ple are pri­or­i­ties for removal, it is the dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals hid­ing among those mil­lions who are no longer able to hide,” said a White House offi­cial who would not be named describ­ing inter­nal pol­i­cy debates.

    “We’ve gone from a sit­u­a­tion where ICE offi­cers have no dis­cre­tion to enhance pub­lic safe­ty and their hands are total­ly tied, to allow­ing ICE offi­cers to engage in pre­ven­ta­tive polic­ing and to go after known pub­lic safe­ty threats and stop ter­ri­ble crimes from hap­pen­ing.”

    The changes, some of which have already begun with more expect­ed in the com­ing months, set the stage for sweep­ing depor­ta­tions last seen in the final years of the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Fac­to­ries and meat­pack­ing plants were raid­ed after talks with Con­gress over com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform broke down in 2007.

    After Oba­ma took office, his admin­is­tra­tion stopped those work­site raids and restrict­ed depor­ta­tion pri­or­i­ties. Expul­sions of peo­ple set­tled and work­ing in the U.S. fell more than 70% from 2009 to 2016.

    That era has come to an end.

    ...

    Although immi­gra­tion agents will want to go after crim­i­nals and peo­ple who pose nation­al secu­ri­ty risks, Trump’s order gives them lee­way and marks a return to “tra­di­tion­al enforce­ment,” said Jes­si­ca Vaugh­an, direc­tor of pol­i­cy stud­ies at the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, a think tank that advo­cates for restric­tions on immi­gra­tion.

    “Almost every­one who is here ille­gal­ly could poten­tial­ly be con­sid­ered a pri­or­i­ty,” Vaugh­an said.

    Just how many peo­ple are swept up will depend on new instruc­tions being draft­ed for immi­gra­tion agents that will be rolled out over the next sev­er­al months. But already, signs point to immi­gra­tion offi­cials embrac­ing Trump’s order.

    In late Jan­u­ary, Trump’s immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy experts gave a 20-page doc­u­ment to top Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials that lays out how to ramp up immi­gra­tion enforce­ment, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the memo. A list of steps includ­ed near­ly dou­bling the num­ber of peo­ple held in immi­gra­tion deten­tion to 80,000 per day, as well as clamp­ing down on pro­grams that allow peo­ple to leave immi­gra­tion cus­tody and check in with fed­er­al agents or wear an ankle mon­i­tor while their cas­es play out in immi­gra­tion court.

    The instruc­tions also pro­pose allow­ing Bor­der Patrol agents to pro­vide trans­la­tion assis­tance to local law enforce­ment, a prac­tice that was stopped in 2012 over con­cerns that it was con­tribut­ing to racial pro­fil­ing.

    In addi­tion, Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials have cir­cu­lat­ed an 11-page memo on how to enact Trump’s order. Among oth­er steps, that doc­u­ment sug­gests expand­ing the use of a depor­ta­tion process that bypass­es immi­gra­tion courts and allows offi­cers to expel for­eign­ers imme­di­ate­ly upon cap­ture. The process, called expe­dit­ed removal, now applies only to immi­grants who are arrest­ed with­in 100 miles of the bor­der and with­in two weeks of ille­gal­ly cross­ing over and who don’t express a cred­i­ble fear of per­se­cu­tion back home. The pro­gram could be expand­ed far­ther from the bor­der and tar­get those who have lived in the U.S. ille­gal­ly for up to two years.

    ...

    ““We are going back to enforce­ment chaos — they are going to give lip ser­vice to going after crim­i­nals, but they real­ly are going to round up every­body they can get their hands on,” said David Leopold, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Lawyers Assn. and an immi­gra­tion lawyer for more than two decades.”

    Well, it looks like exploita­tion of the undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty — one of the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of Amer­i­can soci­ety (yes, the undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants are actu­al­ly a mem­ber of the soci­ety they’re liv­ing in by virtue of liv­ing in it whether you like it or not) — is about to explode since no one is going to want any con­tact with law enforce­ment. But they won’t just go with­out report­ing crimes. They’ll also go with basic med­ical ser­vices and meals for their kids:

    ...
    Far from tar­get­ing only “bad hom­bres,” as Trump has said repeat­ed­ly, his new order allows immi­gra­tion agents to detain near­ly any­one they come in con­tact with who has crossed the bor­der ille­gal­ly. Peo­ple could be booked into cus­tody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunch­es.
    ...
    An addi­tion­al exec­u­tive order under con­sid­er­a­tion would block entry to any­one the U.S. believes may use ben­e­fit pro­grams such as Med­ic­aid and the Chil­dren’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram, accord­ing two Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials who have seen the draft order.
    ...

    So get ready for a much sick­er undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty too. Along with the pre­dictable ‘immi­grants bring dis­ease’ far-right memes. Along those lines, when­ev­er you read any quotes from the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (like this one):

    ...

    Although immi­gra­tion agents will want to go after crim­i­nals and peo­ple who pose nation­al secu­ri­ty risks, Trump’s order gives them lee­way and marks a return to “tra­di­tion­al enforce­ment,” said Jes­si­ca Vaugh­an, direc­tor of pol­i­cy stud­ies at the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, a think tank that advo­cates for restric­tions on immi­gra­tion.

    “Almost every­one who is here ille­gal­ly could poten­tial­ly be con­sid­ered a pri­or­i­ty,” Vaugh­an said.
    ...

    keep in mind that the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies is a far-right group with ties to the pro-eugen­ics Pio­neer Fund, FAIR, and what would today be labeled the “Alt-Right”.

    Also note how rapid­ly the num­ber of peo­ple either expelled or held in deten­tion could expand giv­en the broad­ness of the exec­u­tive order. And that could include vast­ly expand­ing the num­ber of peo­ple who could be imme­di­ate­ly expelled (or held) with­out pro­cess­ing through immi­gra­tion courts:

    ...

    In addi­tion, Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials have cir­cu­lat­ed an 11-page memo on how to enact Trump’s order. Among oth­er steps, that doc­u­ment sug­gests expand­ing the use of a depor­ta­tion process that bypass­es immi­gra­tion courts and allows offi­cers to expel for­eign­ers imme­di­ate­ly upon cap­ture. The process, called expe­dit­ed removal, now applies only to immi­grants who are arrest­ed with­in 100 miles of the bor­der and with­in two weeks of ille­gal­ly cross­ing over and who don’t express a cred­i­ble fear of per­se­cu­tion back home. The pro­gram could be expand­ed far­ther from the bor­der and tar­get those who have lived in the U.S. ille­gal­ly for up to two years.

    ...

    So one of the big ques­tions going for­ward is just how is this surge in the num­ber of peo­ple going to logis­ti­cal­ly hap­pen. Well, as the arti­cle below notes, Steve Ban­non has a plan for that:

    Newsweek

    Steve Ban­non’s Fever Dream of an Amer­i­can Gulag

    By Jeff Stein On 2/2/17 at 9:56 AM

    UPDATED | Imag­ine: Miles upon miles of new con­crete jails stretch­ing across the scrub-brush hori­zons of Texas, New Mex­i­co, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia, with mil­lions of peo­ple incar­cer­at­ed in orange jump­suits and await­ing depor­ta­tion.

    Such is the fevered vision of a lit­tle-noticed seg­ment of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sul­furous exec­u­tive order on bor­der secu­ri­ty and immi­gra­tion enforce­ment secu­ri­ty. Sec­tion 5 of the Jan­u­ary 25 order calls for the “imme­di­ate” con­struc­tion of deten­tion facil­i­ties and allo­ca­tion of per­son­nel and legal resources “to detain aliens at or near the land bor­der with Mex­i­co” and process them for depor­ta­tion. But anoth­er, much over­looked, order signed the same day spells out, in omi­nous terms, who will go.

    Trump promised a week after the Novem­ber elec­tions that he would expel or imprison some 2 mil­lion or 3 mil­lion undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants with crim­i­nal convictions—a num­ber that exists main­ly in his imag­i­na­tion. (Only about 820,000 undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants cur­rent­ly have a crim­i­nal record, accord­ing to the Migra­tion Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, a non­par­ti­san think tank. Many of those have traf­fic infrac­tions and oth­er mis­de­meanors.)

    “Some 6 mil­lion to 8 mil­lion peo­ple in the coun­try ille­gal­ly could be con­sid­ered pri­or­i­ties for depor­ta­tion,” accord­ing to cal­cu­la­tions by the Los Ange­les Times.

    The spec­tre of new, pop-up jails hous­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple is as pow­er­ful a fright-dream for lib­er­als as it is a tri­umph for the president’s “Amer­i­ca first” sven­gali, Steve Ban­non. But, like the fuzzy Trump order drop­ping the gate on trav­el­ers from sev­en Mus­lim-major­i­ty states, the depor­ta­tion mea­sure presents so many fis­cal and legal restraints that is also looks sus­pi­cious­ly like just anoth­er act of ide­o­log­i­cal show­boat­ing from the rum­pled White House strat­e­gy chief.

    “I’m a Lenin­ist,” Ban­non proud­ly promised to the writer Ronald Radosh at a par­ty at his Capi­tol Hill town­house last sum­mer. “Lenin,” he said of the Russ­ian rev­o­lu­tion­ary, “want­ed to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring every­thing crash­ing down, and destroy all of today’s estab­lish­ment.”

    The exec­u­tive orders were “not issued as result of any rec­om­men­da­tion or threat assess­ment made by DHS to the White House,” Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials con­ced­ed in a closed-door brief­ing on Capi­tol Hill Wednes­day, accord­ing to a state­ment from Mis­souri Sen­a­tor Claire McCaskill. They were all Ban­non-style rev­o­lu­tion­ary the­ater.

    Main­stream Repub­li­cans, watch out: If you oppose the depor­ta­tion orders, you may end up like Eric Can­tor, the not-con­ser­v­a­tive-enough House major­i­ty leader from Vir­ginia brought down with Bannon’s help by a vir­tu­al­ly unknown, far-right col­lege eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor, Dave Brat, in the 2014 elec­tion. Two years lat­er, Can­tor still could not fath­om the suc­cess of Bannon’s pol­i­tics of resent­ment and hate. “Neg­a­tiv­i­ty, attack and anger will not be a sus­tain­able cam­paign nar­ra­tive in the gen­er­al elec­tion,” he pre­dict­ed in a June 2016 inter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post. “It will not.”

    Yes, it will, to bor­row a line from Barack Oba­ma. And they’ve only just begun.

    “Even as con­fu­sion, inter­nal dis­sent and wide­spread con­dem­na­tion greet­ed Pres­i­dent Trump’s trav­el ban and crack­down on refugees this week­end, senior White House aides say they are are only get­ting start­ed,” the Los Ange­les Times report­ed. “Trump’s top advi­sors on immi­gra­tion, includ­ing chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non and senior advi­sor Stephen Miller, see them­selves as launch­ing a rad­i­cal exper­i­ment to fun­da­men­tal­ly trans­form how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the coun­try and to block a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who, in their view, won’t assim­i­late into Amer­i­can soci­ety.”

    How broad­ly rad­i­cal their vision is can be seen in “Enhanc­ing Pub­lic Safe­ty in the Inte­ri­or of the Unit­ed States,” the com­pan­ion order to the trav­el ban, which lists aliens for “prioritize[d] removal.” It includes those who “have com­mit­ted acts that con­sti­tute a charge­able crim­i­nal offense,” and also aliens who have “abused any pro­gram relat­ed to receipt of pub­lic ben­e­fits.”

    In oth­er words, some tar­gets can be deport­ed because a DHS agent believes the per­son has bro­ken a law of any kind, “regard­less of whether that per­son has been charged with a crime,” as one ana­lyst put it. And what does “abus­ing” a wel­fare-ori­ent­ed pro­gram mean? Judges and lawyers could be fouled up with that mat­ter alone for years.

    Oth­er can­di­dates for the Trump roundup include aliens who have made “a will­ful mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in con­nec­tion with any offi­cial mat­ter or appli­ca­tion before a gov­ern­ment agency.”

    What is “any offi­cial mat­ter”?

    “If these items were not broad enough,” not­ed Wal­ter Pin­cus, the ven­er­at­ed for­mer Wash­ing­ton Post nation­al secu­ri­ty reporter, “the final cat­e­go­ry for being detained for depor­ta­tion is ‘in the judg­ment of an immi­gra­tion offi­cer, [the aliens] oth­er­wise pose a risk to pub­lic safe­ty or nation­al secu­ri­ty.’”

    “If ever a cat­e­go­ry encour­aged racial pro­fil­ing, that is it,” Pin­cus wrote for the Cypher Brief, a new pub­li­ca­tion by intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als cov­er­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty issues.

    But it’s not just racial pro­fil­ing. The new mil­i­tan­cy unleashed by Trump’s cam­paign and elec­tion seems to be empow­er­ing the administration’s most fired up sup­port­ers, and at least some author­i­ties to take out their rage on white pro­test­ers as well. Last week, a 22-year-vet­er­an New York cop post­ed a video of a pro­test­er in Wash­ing­ton being struck in the face, twice, by an anony­mous passer­by. “The offi­cer shared the video on his Face­book wall with the text, ‘Grow up bitch­es and get a job,’” accord­ing to a report by ProP­ub­li­ca. “Two retired Port Author­i­ty police offi­cers joined in, say­ing, ‘This needs to hap­pen more often!’ and ‘Thats [sic] what the [sic] all need, a lit­tle ass kick­ing.’”

    Ban­non, the for­mer exec­u­tive edi­tor of far-right Bre­it­bart News, pre­sum­ably would approve. “If there’s an explo­sion or a fire some­where,” Matthew Boyle, Breitbart’s Wash­ing­ton polit­i­cal edi­tor, said in 2015, “Steve’s prob­a­bly near­by with some match­es.”

    The for­mer Gold­man Sachs invest­ment banker has amassed immense sway in the White House, not just over Trump, but over the machin­ery of for­eign and domes­tic pol­i­cy, includ­ing the depor­ta­tions plan. The pres­i­dent gave him a seat on the elite “prin­ci­pals com­mit­tee” of the White House Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, effec­tive­ly bestow­ing him par­i­ty with cab­i­net chiefs, includ­ing the sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty. Democ­rats are com­plain­ing that the appoint­ment should require Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion.

    Trump will ignore them. The per­son­al­i­ties of the grandiose pres­i­dent and the self-described Lenin­ist per­fect­ly mesh, espe­cial­ly on mat­ters involv­ing immi­grants and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, where they are replac­ing Oba­ma holdovers with offi­cials who have with impres­sive track records for round­ing up and deport­ing aliens.

    One of them is Thomas Homan, who Trump just ele­vat­ed to run ICE, the home­land secu­ri­ty department’s Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment bureau. “The White House cit­ed his suc­cess expand­ing arrests and deten­tion beds for the recent surge in chil­dren and fam­i­lies flee­ing vio­lence in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca,” The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed. ”While the num­ber of depor­ta­tions of ille­gal immi­grants with crim­i­nal records has declined in recent years, last year this group made up almost 60 per­cent of the total num­ber expelled from the coun­try, the largest per­cent­age in recent mem­o­ry, ICE offi­cials said.” The White House also removed Mark A. Mor­gan, the chief of the U.S. Bor­der Patrol, who had clashed with the pow­er­ful Bor­der Patrol union, which endorsed Trump for pres­i­dent.

    What will bog down the administration’s promise to round up and deport mil­lions of immi­grants is Congress—not so much its Repub­li­can majority’s dis­taste for the pro­gram, but pay­ing for it. Trump has autho­rized the hir­ing of 10,000 addi­tion­al immi­gra­tion offi­cers, as well as 5,000 addi­tion­al Bor­der Patrol offi­cers. “Between the two, he has called for the hir­ing of more gov­ern­ment employ­ees than his high­ly pub­li­cized sav­ing of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs at Car­ri­er and Ford,” Pin­cus not­ed. The White House order also directs DHS to make mon­ey avail­able to “imme­di­ate­ly assign asy­lum offi­cers to immi­gra­tion deten­tion facil­i­ties for the pur­pose of accept­ing asy­lum refer­rals.” The Jus­tice Depart­ment has been told to get with the pro­gram, as White House spokesman Sean Spicer advised unhap­py for­eign ser­vice officers—and fast. The exec­u­tive order directs it to “imme­di­ate­ly assign immi­gra­tion judges to immi­gra­tion deten­tion facil­i­ties.”

    All this thrash­ing about resem­bles noth­ing so much as the botched roll­out of the administration’s trav­el entry ban—with an impor­tant dif­fer­ence. All it took to imple­ment the air­port chaos was an order and a few hun­dred con­fused, over­whelmed Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion agents and offi­cials. In sharp con­trast, the deten­tion and deport­ment orders most­ly require tons more bricks-and-mor­tar con­struc­tion and an immense influx of new fed­er­al agents — all sub­ject­ed to “extreme vet­ting,” one pre­sumes, con­sid­er­ing the recent spike in cor­rup­tion in the bor­der patrol ser­vice.

    Pin­cus not­ed that Mark Sandy, the act­ing direc­tor of the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get, rushed out a state­ment say­ing the White House “anticipated…increased costs,” not only in the cur­rent bud­get but in those beyond, for “steps relat­ed to immi­gra­tion enforce­ment” as well as for “a wall along the south­ern bor­der.” All that will require vast amounts of mon­ey from the only gov­ern­men­tal body that has it: Con­gress.

    “To ful­ly imple­ment [the deten­tion] part of the exec­u­tive order would require Con­gress to appro­pri­ate funds to the spe­cif­ic project,” says Kate Bran­nen, deputy man­ag­ing edi­tor of Just Secu­ri­ty, which cov­ers the inter­sec­tion of law, nation­al secu­ri­ty and human rights.

    “Until then, [DHS] Sec­re­tary [John] Kel­ly will be lim­it­ed in how much mon­ey he can move around in his bud­get for it, which is why it says ‘legal­ly avail­able resources.’”

    Expect DHS to start adver­tis­ing for bids from pri­vate prison oper­a­tors, a much-maligned indus­try that was col­laps­ing in the lat­ter years of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and Core­Civic Inc., are already see­ing wind­falls from their sec­ond chance at life: Their stock prices have near­ly dou­bled since the elec­tion.

    ...

    “Expect DHS to start adver­tis­ing for bids from pri­vate prison oper­a­tors, a much-maligned indus­try that was col­laps­ing in the lat­ter years of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and Core­Civic Inc., are already see­ing wind­falls from their sec­ond chance at life: Their stock prices have near­ly dou­bled since the elec­tion.”

    A mas­sive net­work of new pri­vate pris­ons to hold the mil­lions of peo­ple Trump and Ban­non are plan­ning on round­ing up and expelling. That’s the plan.

    Also keep in mind that, while there’s almost no way the GOP isn’t going to end up explod­ing the deficit to pay for all the tax cuts for the rich, the GOP is still almost cer­tain­ly going to be using “rev­enue neu­tral­i­ty” as a ral­ly­ing cry for jus­ti­fy­ing wide­spread cuts to fed­er­al pro­grams. Specif­i­cal­ly, when­ev­er there’s a new spend­ing pro­gram, the GOP is going to say “we need to make this new spend­ing pro­gram rev­enue-neu­tral, which means we’re going to have to make cuts else­where to pay for it (and ignore our bud­get-bust­ing tax cuts)”. And the only way to keep this con­struc­tion blitz cost-neu­tral is to cut fed­er­al dis­cre­tionary pro­grams...espe­cial­ly fed­er­al wel­fare pro­grams. So in order to stop undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants from using US wel­fare pro­grams, Trump and the GOP will build a new gulag that will almost cer­tain­ly be paid for by cut­ting US wel­fare pro­grams.

    At least now we know what Trump’s real infra­struc­ture pro­gram is going to look like.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 4, 2017, 3:45 pm
  5. And now word from your Dear Leader: Any neg­a­tive polls about Dear Lead­er’s pop­u­lar­i­ty or the pop­u­lar­i­ty of his exec­u­tive orders in the open­ing weeks of his nev­er-end­ing rule are fake news. It’s all fake. Every­one loves Dear Leader and his poli­cies. So it has been decreed. On Twit­ter:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Pres­i­dent Trump’s sim­plis­tic, illog­i­cal world­view, in one tweet

    By Aaron Blake
    Feb­ru­ary 6, 2017 at 10:19 AM

    Pres­i­dent Trump has final­ly admit­ted to his over­ar­ch­ing the­o­ry about which polls are right and which ones are wrong. And it’s very sim­ple:

    Polls that are bad for Trump = wrong

    This isn’t much of a sur­prise; Trump has been bash­ing any poll that is bad for him and prais­ing any poll that is good for him — no mat­ter how dubi­ous the qual­i­ty — for as long as he’s been a politi­cian. But few politi­cians would cop to this approach so direct­ly. And yet, here’s Trump’s Mon­day morn­ing tweet:

    Any neg­a­tive polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the elec­tion. Sor­ry, peo­ple want bor­der secu­ri­ty and extreme vet­ting.— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Feb­ru­ary 6, 2017

    “Any neg­a­tive polls are fake news.” This is Trump sig­nal­ing to his sup­port­ers that they are to dis­miss any bad news about him. Nev­er mind the method­ol­o­gy of a giv­en poll or how Trump is actu­al­ly doing as pres­i­dent; if some­thing is neg­a­tive, it has to be wrong.

    This is at once a com­plete­ly Trump world­view and also one that would get any stu­dent tak­ing Sta­tis­tics 101 a fail­ing grade. Trump insists in his next tweet that he relies on the “accu­mu­la­tion of data” to make his deci­sions, but in this tweet, he is express­ing con­tempt for any data that don’t fit his pre­con­ceived notions or desires.

    Poll-doub­ter­ism is an increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar prac­tice in this coun­try, giv­en how wrong some polls were in the 2016 elec­tion. The media large­ly over­shot those polls’ pre­dic­tive qual­i­ties when it said (and we’re over-gen­er­al­iz­ing “the media” here, yes) that Trump would­n’t win. And so Trump is till­ing fer­tile soil here.

    But his approach just has no basis in log­ic. It’s almost alog­i­cal, rather than illog­i­cal. It’s also allow­ing for Trump to do basi­cal­ly any­thing and claim a vast con­spir­a­cy against him by poll­sters when they show peo­ple don’t like it. Unem­ploy­ment could sky­rock­et and Trump could start World War III by acci­dent, and the polls show­ing him unpop­u­lar would just be “fake news.” There is no lim­it to the pow­er Trump is attempt­ing to assert when it comes to lead­ing his base.

    It’s worth not­ing here that these same nation­al polls that he’s bash­ing were only about 1 point off in 2016 — on aver­age — and even if they’re 5 or 15 points off today, he was still the most unpop­u­lar pres­i­dent-elect in mod­ern his­to­ry. It’s just not close.

    Those very real sta­tis­tics aside, Trump is throw­ing this blan­ket pol­i­cy over all polling for a clear rea­son: Because basi­cal­ly every poll shows him and his poli­cies tread­ing water.

    * His aver­age approval rat­ing is low­er than his dis­ap­proval rat­ing, accord­ing to the Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics aver­age.
    * A new CNN poll showed 53 per­cent dis­ap­proved of his trav­el ban exec­u­tive order, vs. 47 per­cent who approved. A CBS News poll showed Amer­i­cans dis­ap­prove of it 51–45. And Gallup showed 55–42 against.
    * The Gallup poll showed Amer­i­cans opposed his bor­der wall, 60–38.
    * Gallup also showed they oppose halt­ing the Syr­i­an refugee pro­gram, 58–36.
    * The CBS poll showed peo­ple believed ban­ning refugees went against the found­ing prin­ci­ples of the Unit­ed States, 57–35.
    * A Quin­nip­i­ac poll last week showed peo­ple thought Trump would be a worse pres­i­dent than Barack Oba­ma, 50–37.
    * Polls have shown 7 in 10 would like more infor­ma­tion on Trump’s finances and his tax returns.

    The total pic­ture is of a pres­i­dent who sim­ply isn’t doing all that well in the eyes of the Amer­i­can peo­ple — to vary­ing degrees. On this point, the polls are almost com­plete­ly unit­ed.

    And that’s com­plete­ly real­is­tic, giv­en Trump is doing very divi­sive and con­tro­ver­sial things. It’s no sur­prise that the Amer­i­can peo­ple would be split on his ideas giv­en the tenor of his poli­cies and the tone he takes with his polit­i­cal oppo­nents. If Trump were try­ing hard to make every­one love him, it would be one thing. He’s not.

    ...

    “But his approach just has no basis in log­ic. It’s almost alog­i­cal, rather than illog­i­cal. It’s also allow­ing for Trump to do basi­cal­ly any­thing and claim a vast con­spir­a­cy against him by poll­sters when they show peo­ple don’t like it. Unem­ploy­ment could sky­rock­et and Trump could start World War III by acci­dent, and the polls show­ing him unpop­u­lar would just be “fake news.” There is no lim­it to the pow­er Trump is attempt­ing to assert when it comes to lead­ing his base.

    Every­body got that? All news is good news if its Trump news. If you hear bad Trump news, it’s fake news. Fake news prob­a­bly designed to dis­tract peo­ple from all the ter­ror­ist attacks the media refus­es to cov­er:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Pres­i­dent Trump is now spec­u­lat­ing that the media is cov­er­ing up ter­ror­ist attacks

    By Philip Bump
    Feb­ru­ary 6, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Speak­ing to the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand on Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Trump went off his pre­pared remarks to make a tru­ly stun­ning claim: The media was inten­tion­al­ly cov­er­ing up reports of ter­ror­ist attacks.

    “You’ve seen what hap­pened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s hap­pen­ing,” he said to the assem­bled mil­i­tary lead­ers. “It’s got­ten to a point where it’s not even being report­ed. And in many cas­es the very, very dis­hon­est press doesn’t want to report it. They have their rea­sons, and you under­stand that.”

    The com­ment imme­di­ate­ly harked back to com­ments from senior advis­er Kellyanne Con­way on MSNBC last week.

    “I bet it’s brand-new infor­ma­tion to peo­ple that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee pro­gram after two Iraqis came here to this coun­try, were rad­i­cal­ized and were the mas­ter­minds behind the Bowl­ing Green mas­sacre,” she said. “Most peo­ple don’t know that because it didn’t get cov­ered.”

    It was brand-new infor­ma­tion to peo­ple because there was no “Bowl­ing Green mas­sacre.” Con­way had referred to the sup­posed ter­ror­ist attack pre­vi­ous­ly, includ­ing in response to a ques­tion posed by TMZ. But the two Iraqis arrest­ed in Bowl­ing Green, Ky., in 2011 nev­er com­mit­ted an attack in the Unit­ed States. She lat­er admit­ted that she’d mis­spo­ken.

    Trump’s com­ment goes far fur­ther than Conway’s, though. Her state­ment that “it didn’t get cov­ered” prob­a­bly referred to the alleged “six-month ban” from the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. (That this, too, didn’t hap­pen has been some­what swept under the rug.) Trump is posit­ing that the media active­ly sup­press­es news of ter­ror­ist attacks to ful­fill a polit­i­cal agen­da.

    It’s cer­tain­ly true that not every ter­ror­ist attack receives broad cov­er­age in the nation­al media. FiveThir­tyEight looked at the like­li­hood that a ter­ror­ist attack in a for­eign coun­try would be cov­ered by the New York Times, look­ing at cov­er­age of 40,129 attacks from 1968 to 2009. Not every attack received cov­er­age over that peri­od. Last spring, the Los Ange­les Times set out to log every sin­gle ter­ror­ist attack in the month of April, count­ing 180 attacks that killed 858 peo­ple. Not every one of those attacks made your local night­ly news­cast.

    But fil­ter­ing what to cov­er is very dif­fer­ent than sup­press­ing infor­ma­tion. On any giv­en day, local news­pa­pers and news broad­casts decide what to spend resources on. If your home is bur­glar­ized, it may not make the cut. This prob­a­bly isn’t because the Chan­nel 5 news direc­tor has a vendet­ta against you; it’s that there are lim­it­ed resources.

    Trump’s com­ment is very much in line with com­ments he made last June about Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma.

    “Look guys, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has some­thing else in mind,” Trump said about Obama’s response to the attack at a gay night­club in Orlan­do. “And the some­thing else in mind — peo­ple can’t believe it. Peo­ple can­not believe that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is act­ing the way he acts and can’t even men­tion the words rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism. There’s some­thing going on.”

    The clear impli­ca­tion: Oba­ma is on the side of the ter­ror­ists. Trump didn’t quite say that the media was sid­ing with the ter­ror­ists, just that the media would hap­pi­ly ignore ter­ror­ism if it made Trump look bad.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, Trump him­self ignored the mass shoot­ing that occurred at a mosque in Que­bec last week, killing six peo­ple. White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer told the media that the pres­i­dent and the Cana­di­an prime min­is­ter had spo­ken, but Trump him­self declined to weigh in. (Spicer cit­ed the attack most­ly as some­how val­i­dat­ing Trump’s immi­gra­tion poli­cies.)

    Trump did tweet about anoth­er attack.

    A new rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ist has just attacked in Lou­vre Muse­um in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Feb­ru­ary 3, 2017

    In that one, no one was killed.

    Trump has con­sis­tent­ly seen attacks like that in Que­bec — com­mit­ted by a young man who espoused anti-Mus­lim pol­i­tics and defend­ed Trump online — as iso­lat­ed inci­dents from men­tal­ly dis­turbed indi­vid­u­als, while attacks by Mus­lims are part of a broad­er pat­tern spurred by rad­i­cal Islamism. He sees an insti­tu­tion behind attacks by Mus­lims that he doesn’t see behind attacks like that in Que­bec or in Charleston in 2015. That helps explain why he is will­ing to focus the country’s anti-ter­ror­ism efforts sole­ly on ter­ror­ism com­mit­ted in the name of Islam: He doesn’t see how oth­er threats are sys­temic.

    With his com­ments on Mon­day, Trump implied that the media is com­plic­it in mak­ing ter­ror­ists suc­cess­ful. It’s part of a recent pat­tern of sug­gest­ing that oth­ers are stand­ing in the way of his ter­ror­ism-fight­ing efforts, which includes dis­parag­ing a fed­er­al judge who halt­ed his immi­gra­tion exec­u­tive order.

    Conway’s com­ments about Bowl­ing Green earned her an enor­mous amount of pub­lic mock­ery — an undue amount, giv­en the like­li­hood that her com­ments were a mis­take rather than an inten­tion­al lie. Trump’s com­ments are of an entire­ly dif­fer­ent order and mag­ni­tude.

    Trump’s rela­tion­ship with the media has nev­er been strong dur­ing his time in pol­i­tics. But he’s nev­er before tried to push the media into the “against us” cir­cle along­side those who com­mit acts of ter­ror­ism — at least, not so explic­it­ly.

    ...

    “With his com­ments on Mon­day, Trump implied that the media is com­plic­it in mak­ing ter­ror­ists suc­cess­ful. It’s part of a recent pat­tern of sug­gest­ing that oth­ers are stand­ing in the way of his ter­ror­ism-fight­ing efforts, which includes dis­parag­ing a fed­er­al judge who halt­ed his immi­gra­tion exec­u­tive order.

    Remem­ber, if you’re in the media, you’re either cov­er a ter­ror­ist attack or you are a ter­ror­ist. Or at least a ter­ror­ist sym­pa­thiz­er. Like Barack Oba­ma. So says Dear Leader:

    ...

    Trump’s com­ment is very much in line with com­ments he made last June about Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma.

    “Look guys, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has some­thing else in mind,” Trump said about Obama’s response to the attack at a gay night­club in Orlan­do. “And the some­thing else in mind — peo­ple can’t believe it. Peo­ple can­not believe that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is act­ing the way he acts and can’t even men­tion the words rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism. There’s some­thing going on.”

    The clear impli­ca­tion: Oba­ma is on the side of the ter­ror­ists. Trump didn’t quite say that the media was sid­ing with the ter­ror­ists, just that the media would hap­pi­ly ignore ter­ror­ism if it made Trump look bad.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, Trump him­self ignored the mass shoot­ing that occurred at a mosque in Que­bec last week, killing six peo­ple. White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer told the media that the pres­i­dent and the Cana­di­an prime min­is­ter had spo­ken, but Trump him­self declined to weigh in. (Spicer cit­ed the attack most­ly as some­how val­i­dat­ing Trump’s immi­gra­tion poli­cies.)

    ...

    Remem­ber. The most impor­tant thing a jour­nal­ist can do is give as much media atten­tion to every ter­ror­ist attack as pos­si­ble. And be sure to use the words “rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism” over and over. It’s what the ter­ror­ists fear most. Unless it’s non-Islam­ic ter­ror­ism in which case your time is prob­a­bly bet­ter spent cov­er­ing one of the many acts of Islam­ic ter­ror­ism the press will no doubt be ignor­ing.

    Also, any reports about Dear Leader employ­ing fake news is just fake news. And if you read any reports describ­ing any­thing oth­er than joy­ful dis­ci­pline in the spir­it of pub­lic ser­vice on the part of the White House team, that’s all fake news too. Espe­cial­ly any reports that Dear Leader might have his own Dear Leader:

    Politi­co

    Trump leans on ‘fake news’ line to com­bat reports of West Wing dys­func­tion

    The pres­i­dent appears espe­cial­ly irked by the grow­ing nar­ra­tive of Ban­non as the real pow­er in the White House.

    By Eli Stokols and Nolan D. McCaskill

    02/06/17 01:09 PM EST
    Updat­ed 02/06/17 02:15 PM EST

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Mon­day lashed out via Twit­ter at a series of news reports reveal­ing the tur­moil inside the White House, lean­ing on his crutch of “fake news” as he strug­gles to con­trol a hard­en­ing nar­ra­tive about a dys­func­tion­al West Wing.

    One of his mis­sives came from Air Force One en route to Tam­pa, Flori­da, as Trump panned a New York Times report that detailed the fric­tion inside his admin­is­tra­tion and its ear­ly stum­bles.

    “The fail­ing @nytimes writes total fic­tion con­cern­ing me. They have got­ten it wrong for two years, and now are mak­ing up sto­ries & sources!” Trump tweet­ed at 11:32 a.m., ignor­ing the fact that many of his top advis­ers were quot­ed by name in the sto­ry.

    Trump seemed par­tic­u­lar­ly incensed by reports and par­o­dies about chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non being the actu­al deci­sion-mak­er in the White House.

    “I call my own shots, large­ly based on an accu­mu­la­tion of data, and every­one knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to mar­gin­al­ize, lies!” Trump tweet­ed.

    The mes­sage came at 7:01 a.m., 52 min­utes after Joe Scar­bor­ough, whose MSNBC morn­ing show the pres­i­dent is known to watch reli­gious­ly, sug­gest­ed that “maybe Bannon’s call­ing all the shots.”

    Scarborough’s com­ments — and Trump’s frus­tra­tions — are the out­growth of a media nar­ra­tive that has mush­roomed over the past sev­er­al days, ini­tial­ly with Bannon’s face grac­ing last week’s Time mag­a­zine cov­er, which declared him “The Great Manip­u­la­tor,” and then in sting­ing satire, on “Sat­ur­day Night Live,” that pre­sent­ed Ban­non as the real own­er of the Res­olute Desk.

    The sketch com­e­dy fran­chise opened with Alec Bald­win por­tray­ing the pres­i­dent in the Oval Office, where he was joined by Ban­non, dressed as the grim reaper while indulging Trump’s worst impuls­es by encour­ag­ing his bel­li­cos­i­ty dur­ing calls to for­eign lead­ers.

    The skit par­o­died reports of Trump’s poor states­man­ship dur­ing the calls and brought to life The New York Times’ edi­to­r­i­al board’s opin­ion last week — head­lined “Pres­i­dent Ban­non?” — sug­gest­ing that the for­mer Bre­it­bart exec­u­tive “is posi­tion­ing him­self … as the de fac­to pres­i­dent.”

    In the sto­ry that drew Trump’s ire Mon­day, the Times also report­ed that Ban­non is “the president’s dom­i­nant advis­er, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not ful­ly briefed on details of the exec­u­tive order he signed giv­ing his chief strate­gist a seat on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.”

    Two weeks after an advis­er mem­o­rably char­ac­ter­ized false­hoods com­ing from the White House as “alter­na­tive facts,” Trump is increas­ing­ly turn­ing to his “fake news” line to try to punc­ture swelling sto­ry­lines that are unflat­ter­ing to his nascent pres­i­den­cy and counter the unfound­ed claims from the White House. That’s despite the fact that not too long ago, Trump’s crit­ics were the ones push­ing the “fake news” term to describe false reports that pro­lif­er­at­ed on the inter­net dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to boost Trump’s can­di­da­cy.

    ...

    Even right-lean­ing Fox News is ques­tion­ing some of the base­less claims com­ing from Trump and his team. In an inter­view that aired as part of Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show, Bill O’Reilly twice pressed Trump to back up his unfound­ed asser­tion about mil­lions of ille­gal votes dur­ing last year’s elec­tion.

    “You say things you can’t back up fac­tu­al­ly, and as the pres­i­dent, if you say, for exam­ple, that there are 3 mil­lion ille­gal aliens who vot­ed and then you don’t have the data to back it up, some peo­ple are gonna say that it’s irre­spon­si­ble for a pres­i­dent to say that,” O’Reilly said to Trump. “Is there any valid­i­ty to that?”

    “Many peo­ple have come out and said I’m right. You know that,” the pres­i­dent respond­ed.

    “I know, but you’ve got­ta have data to back that up,” O’Reil­ly shot back.

    Moments lat­er, as the pres­i­dent repeat­ed his unfound­ed claim, O’Reil­ly pressed again for more cor­rob­o­ra­tion.

    “A lot of peo­ple have come out and said that I am cor­rect,” Trump said.

    “But the data has to show that 3 mil­lion ille­gals vot­ed,” O’Reil­ly coun­tered.

    “For­get that,” Trump said. “For­get all of that.”

    ...

    “Trump seemed par­tic­u­lar­ly incensed by reports and par­o­dies about chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non being the actu­al deci­sion-mak­er in the White House.”

    Is Steve Ban­non the real pow­er behind the throne? If so, no one told Trump about it, appar­ent­ly. And he’s clear­ly not going to take it well when he finds out so it’s best that no one men­tions it:

    ...

    “I call my own shots, large­ly based on an accu­mu­la­tion of data, and every­one knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to mar­gin­al­ize, lies!” Trump tweet­ed.

    The mes­sage came at 7:01 a.m., 52 min­utes after Joe Scar­bor­ough, whose MSNBC morn­ing show the pres­i­dent is known to watch reli­gious­ly, sug­gest­ed that “maybe Bannon’s call­ing all the shots.”

    Scarborough’s com­ments — and Trump’s frus­tra­tions — are the out­growth of a media nar­ra­tive that has mush­roomed over the past sev­er­al days, ini­tial­ly with Bannon’s face grac­ing last week’s Time mag­a­zine cov­er, which declared him “The Great Manip­u­la­tor,” and then in sting­ing satire, on “Sat­ur­day Night Live,” that pre­sent­ed Ban­non as the real own­er of the Res­olute Desk.

    The sketch com­e­dy fran­chise opened with Alec Bald­win por­tray­ing the pres­i­dent in the Oval Office, where he was joined by Ban­non, dressed as the grim reaper while indulging Trump’s worst impuls­es by encour­ag­ing his bel­li­cos­i­ty dur­ing calls to for­eign lead­ers.

    The skit par­o­died reports of Trump’s poor states­man­ship dur­ing the calls and brought to life The New York Times’ edi­to­r­i­al board’s opin­ion last week — head­lined “Pres­i­dent Ban­non?” — sug­gest­ing that the for­mer Bre­it­bart exec­u­tive “is posi­tion­ing him­self … as the de fac­to pres­i­dent.”

    In the sto­ry that drew Trump’s ire Mon­day, the Times also report­ed that Ban­non is “the president’s dom­i­nant advis­er, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not ful­ly briefed on details of the exec­u­tive order he signed giv­ing his chief strate­gist a seat on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.”

    Two weeks after an advis­er mem­o­rably char­ac­ter­ized false­hoods com­ing from the White House as “alter­na­tive facts,” Trump is increas­ing­ly turn­ing to his “fake news” line to try to punc­ture swelling sto­ry­lines that are unflat­ter­ing to his nascent pres­i­den­cy and counter the unfound­ed claims from the White House. That’s despite the fact that not too long ago, Trump’s crit­ics were the ones push­ing the “fake news” term to describe false reports that pro­lif­er­at­ed on the inter­net dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to boost Trump’s can­di­da­cy.
    ...

    Who’s the shot-caller? Dear Leader is the shot-caller. That’s who. And any­thing that says oth­er­wise is total­ly fake news from a ter­ror­ist-sym­pa­thiz­ing fake news media. Remem­ber all of that. And for­get any­thing that con­tra­dicts it or any­thing else in con­flict with Dear Lead­er’s vision of what is, was, and always will be:

    ...
    Even right-lean­ing Fox News is ques­tion­ing some of the base­less claims com­ing from Trump and his team. In an inter­view that aired as part of Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show, Bill O’Reilly twice pressed Trump to back up his unfound­ed asser­tion about mil­lions of ille­gal votes dur­ing last year’s elec­tion.

    “You say things you can’t back up fac­tu­al­ly, and as the pres­i­dent, if you say, for exam­ple, that there are 3 mil­lion ille­gal aliens who vot­ed and then you don’t have the data to back it up, some peo­ple are gonna say that it’s irre­spon­si­ble for a pres­i­dent to say that,” O’Reilly said to Trump. “Is there any valid­i­ty to that?”

    “Many peo­ple have come out and said I’m right. You know that,” the pres­i­dent respond­ed.

    “I know, but you’ve got­ta have data to back that up,” O’Reil­ly shot back.

    Moments lat­er, as the pres­i­dent repeat­ed his unfound­ed claim, O’Reil­ly pressed again for more cor­rob­o­ra­tion.

    “A lot of peo­ple have come out and said that I am cor­rect,” Trump said.

    “But the data has to show that 3 mil­lion ille­gals vot­ed,” O’Reil­ly coun­tered.

    “For­get that,” Trump said. “For­get all of that.”
    ...

    ““For­get that,” Trump said. “For­get all of that.””

    Remem­ber. If some­thing sul­lies the mem­o­ry of Dear Leader, for­get it. All of it. Espe­cial­ly any­thing about Dear Lead­er’s brain not being the best brain ever and maybe per­haps expe­ri­ences some brain prob­lems. Be sure to for­get that stuff. And then return to the pleas­ant, accept­able mem­o­ries. If you don’t you’re a ter­ror­ist sym­pa­thiz­er. It has been decreed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2017, 3:53 pm
  6. Paul Krug­man has some good news/bad news for Don­ald Trump’s ego (and most­ly good news for the health of the US stock mar­kets): based on Krug­man’s analy­sis, we don’t have to wor­ry about a ‘Trump bub­ble’ in US stocks despite all of Don­ald Trump’s claims about how much opti­mism he’s cre­at­ed because stocks haven’t actu­al­ly shot up all that much since Trump won.

    But that does­n’t mean there haven’t be major win­ners. Gold­man Sachs, for starters. But check out which sec­tor of the stock mar­ket has been expe­ri­enc­ing a surge since Trump won reelec­tion due large­ly to Trump-relat­ed opti­mism: Ura­ni­um min­ing stocks:

    CNN Mon­ey

    Ura­ni­um stocks are boom­ing, thanks to Trump

    Ura­ni­um stocks are, uhhh, going nuclear late­ly thanks to hopes that Don­ald Trump and his admin­is­tra­tion will be more will­ing to invest in nuclear pow­er.

    by Paul R. La Mon­i­ca
    Jan­u­ary 20, 2017: 11:09 AM ET

    The Glob­al X Ura­ni­um ETF (URA), a bas­ket of sev­er­al big ura­ni­um min­ing stocks, is up near­ly 40% since Elec­tion Day.

    The fund has soared more than 25% this year alone — despite the fact that its largest hold­ing, Cana­di­an ura­ni­um min­er Came­co (CCJ), plunged near­ly 20% on Wednes­day after warn­ing of a loss due to low­er pro­duc­tion at a mine in Kaza­khstan.

    Came­co also announced that it will be cut­ting more than 100 jobs at mines in Saskatchewan.

    But Came­co’s stock, even with the drub­bing it took ear­li­er this week, is still up more than 15% this year. It rebound­ed sharply on Thurs­day and Fri­day.

    The opti­mism seems almost entire­ly due to Trump.

    In an inter­view with Canada’s BNN net­work this week, Came­co CEO Tim Gitzel said that “we’ve heard some encour­ag­ing words from the Trump team on nuclear pow­er. We’re opti­mistic that will help our nuclear indus­try.”

    So far, Trump has­n’t said much about invest­ing in nuclear pow­er since the elec­tion. His most notable com­ment about nuclear ener­gy was actu­al­ly a tweet about nuclear weapons a few days before Christ­mas.

    Trump wrote that “the Unit­ed States must great­ly strength­en and expand its nuclear capa­bil­i­ty until such time as the world comes to its sens­es regard­ing nukes.”

    Trump’s ener­gy sec­re­tary nom­i­nee Rick Per­ry, the for­mer gov­er­nor of oil-rich Texas, has­n’t talked much about nuclear pow­er either.

    But investors are cling­ing to the hope that Trump is pro-nuclear pow­er, part­ly because of com­ments he made near­ly six years ago after the melt­down at Japan’s Fukushi­ma Dai­ichi plant in March 2011 after an earth­quake hit the area.

    “I’m in favor of nuclear ener­gy, very strong­ly in favor of nuclear ener­gy,” Trump said in an appear­ance on Fox News. “If a plane goes down peo­ple keep fly­ing. If you get into an auto crash peo­ple keep dri­ving.”

    Bloomberg also report­ed last month that mem­bers of Trump’s tran­si­tion team have reached out to the Ener­gy Depart­ment about find­ing ways to help keep more nuclear pow­er plants run­ning.

    Sev­er­al large plants have already closed. And Enter­gy (ETR) recent­ly reached an agree­ment with New York state to shut down the Indi­an Point nuclear pow­er plant near New York City by 2021.

    So the fact that Trump appears to be com­mit­ted to keep­ing the indus­try alive is being viewed as a sig­nif­i­cant win by investors.

    ...

    “So the fact that Trump appears to be com­mit­ted to keep­ing the indus­try alive is being viewed as a sig­nif­i­cant win by investors.”

    Could investor opti­mism that Trump will save the nuclear pow­er indus­try would cre­ate a surge in mar­ket expec­ta­tions that could lead to a 40 per­cent rise in ura­ni­um min­ing stocks? It seems plau­si­ble. But let’s not for­get this part:

    ...

    So far, Trump has­n’t said much about invest­ing in nuclear pow­er since the elec­tion. His most notable com­ment about nuclear ener­gy was actu­al­ly a tweet about nuclear weapons a few days before Christ­mas.

    Trump wrote that “the Unit­ed States must great­ly strength­en and expand its nuclear capa­bil­i­ty until such time as the world comes to its sens­es regard­ing nukes.”

    ...

    Yep, Trump wants more nukes. Not more nuclear plants. More nuclear weapons. Or at least upgrad­ed nuclear weapons. But since this is Trump we’re talk­ing about it’s safe to assume he’d like more actu­al nukes too. And that’s prob­a­bly going to require a lot more ura­ni­um min­ing.

    So giv­en how sen­si­tive the ura­ni­um min­ing indus­try is Trump’s nuclear whims, you have to won­der where those stocks are head­ing after this report:

    Reuters

    Exclu­sive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Oba­ma-era nuclear arms treaty — sources

    By Jonathan Lan­day and David Rohde | WASHINGTON
    Thu Feb 9, 2017 | 3:34pm EST

    In his first call as pres­i­dent with Russ­ian leader Vladimir Putin, Don­ald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russ­ian deploy­ment of nuclear war­heads as a bad deal for the Unit­ed States, accord­ing to two U.S. offi­cials and one for­mer U.S. offi­cial with knowl­edge of the call.

    When Putin raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty of extend­ing the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

    Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of sev­er­al bad deals nego­ti­at­ed by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, say­ing that New START favored Rus­sia. Trump also talked about his own pop­u­lar­i­ty, the sources said.

    “The pres­i­den­t’s con­ver­sa­tion with Pres­i­dent Putin is a pri­vate call between the two of them, and I’m going to leave it at that,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said when asked about the accounts of the call.

    It has not been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that Trump had con­veyed his doubt about New START to Putin in the hour-long call.

    New START gives both coun­tries until Feb­ru­ary 2018 to reduce their deployed strate­gic nuclear war­heads to no more than 1,550, the low­est lev­el in decades. It also lim­its deployed land- and sub­ma­rine-based mis­siles and nuclear-capa­ble bombers.

    Dur­ing a debate in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Trump said Rus­sia had “out­smart­ed” the Unit­ed States with the treaty, which he called “START-Up.” He assert­ed incor­rect­ly then that it had allowed Rus­sia to con­tin­ue to pro­duce nuclear war­heads while the Unit­ed States could not.

    Two Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, sen­a­tors Jeanne Sha­heen and Edward J. Markey, crit­i­cized Trump for derid­ing what they called a key nuclear arms con­trol accord.

    “It’s impos­si­ble to over­state the neg­li­gence of the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States not know­ing basic facts about nuclear pol­i­cy and arms con­trol,” Sha­heen said in a state­ment. “New START has unques­tion­ably made our coun­try safer, an opin­ion wide­ly shared by nation­al secu­ri­ty experts on both sides of the aisle.”

    Daryl Kim­ball, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Arms Con­trol Asso­ci­a­tion, a Wash­ing­ton-based advo­ca­cy group, said: “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Mr. Trump appears to be clue­less about the val­ue of this key nuclear risk reduc­tion treaty and the unique dan­gers of nuclear weapons.”

    Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said he sup­port­ed the treaty dur­ing his Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

    Dur­ing the hear­ings Tiller­son said it was impor­tant for the Unit­ed States to “stay engaged with Rus­sia, hold them account­able to com­mit­ments made under the New START and also ensure our account­abil­i­ty as well.”

    Two of the peo­ple who described the con­ver­sa­tion were briefed by cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials who read detailed notes tak­en dur­ing the call. One of the two was shown por­tions of the notes. A third source was also briefed on the call.

    Reuters has not reviewed the notes tak­en of the call, which are clas­si­fied.

    The Krem­lin did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests for com­ment.

    CONCERNS OVER PHONE CALLS

    The phone call with Putin has added to con­cerns that Trump is not ade­quate­ly pre­pared for dis­cus­sions with for­eign lead­ers.

    Typ­i­cal­ly, before a tele­phone call with a for­eign leader, a pres­i­dent receives a writ­ten in-depth brief­ing paper draft­ed by Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil staff after con­sul­ta­tions with the rel­e­vant agen­cies, includ­ing the State Depart­ment, Pen­ta­gon and intel­li­gence agen­cies, two for­mer senior offi­cials said.

    Just before the call, the pres­i­dent also usu­al­ly receives an oral “pre-brief­ing” from his nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er and top sub­ject-mat­ter aide, they said.

    Trump did not receive a brief­ing from Rus­sia experts with the NSC and intel­li­gence agen­cies before the Putin call, two of the sources said. Reuters was unable to deter­mine if Trump received a brief­ing from his nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn.

    In the phone call, the Russ­ian leader raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty of reviv­ing talks on a range of dis­putes and sug­gest­ed extend­ing New START, the sources said.

    New START can be extend­ed for anoth­er five years, beyond 2021, by mutu­al agree­ment. Unless they agree to do that or nego­ti­ate new cuts, the world’s two biggest nuclear pow­ers would be freed from the treaty’s lim­its, poten­tial­ly set­ting the stage for a new arms race.

    New START was rat­i­fied by the U.S. Sen­ate in Decem­ber 2010 by a vote of 71 to 26. Thir­teen Repub­li­can sen­a­tors joined all of the Senate’s Democ­rats in vot­ing for the treaty, although Repub­li­can oppo­nents derid­ed it as naive.

    ...

    “The phone call with Putin has added to con­cerns that Trump is not ade­quate­ly pre­pared for dis­cus­sions with for­eign lead­ers.”

    Uh, yeah, that sounds like a rather con­cern­ing phone call:

    ...
    When Putin raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty of extend­ing the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

    Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of sev­er­al bad deals nego­ti­at­ed by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, say­ing that New START favored Rus­sia. Trump also talked about his own pop­u­lar­i­ty, the sources said.
    ...

    But it clear­ly would­n’t be very con­cern­ing for the ura­ni­um min­ing indus­try! So now that this report of the Trump-Putin phone call of Doom came out it’ll be inter­est­ing to see where those stocks go. along with the stocks for the rest of the nuclear weapons indus­try.

    So is a nuclear weapons indus­try stock bub­ble just around the cor­ner? Well, yes, along with an ‘every­thing else’ bub­ble assum­ing cur­rent Trumpian trends con­tin­ue.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 9, 2017, 3:51 pm
  7. As Mr. Emory stated/predicted, Ger­many is mov­ing toward glob­al hege­mon as they now intro­duce the “log­ic” as to whey they should accu­mu­late their own nuclear arse­nal:

    http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/59005

    Behold the fruit of Ost­poli­tik.

    Posted by Sampson | February 10, 2017, 8:16 am
  8. Is Don­ald Trump a com­pul­sive liar? Like the type of per­son who just can’t help stop them­selves from lying even when it’s obvi­ous that the lie will be exposed? Or is there a method to his mad­ness? It’s a ques­tion increas­ing­ly worth ask­ing giv­en the obvi­ous signs of mad­ness:

    CNN

    Trump false­ly accus­es sen­a­tor of mis­rep­re­sent­ing Gor­such crit­i­cism

    By Jere­my Dia­mond
    Updat­ed 3:22 PM ET, Thu Feb­ru­ary 9, 2017

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN) Updat­ed at 3:20 p.m.: White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said Thurs­day Trump “absolute­ly” stands by his selec­tion of Gor­such.

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump false­ly accused a Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor Thurs­day of mis­rep­re­sent­ing his Supreme Court his Supreme Court nom­i­nee’s words, accord­ing to sev­er­al famil­iar with the inci­dent.

    Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal said Wednes­day that Judge Neil Gor­such, Trump’s nom­i­nee, told him he found Trump’s attack on a fed­er­al judge on Twit­ter “dis­heart­en­ing” and “demor­al­iz­ing.”

    With­in a half-hour, Gor­such spokesman Ron Bon­jean, who was tapped by the White House to head com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Gor­such, con­firmed that the nom­i­nee, Gor­such, used those words in his meet­ing with Blu­men­thal. Sev­er­al oth­er sen­a­tors, includ­ing Repub­li­can Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka, lat­er relayed sim­i­lar accounts of Gor­such force­ful­ly crit­i­ciz­ing Trump’s pub­lic attacks on the judi­cia­ry branch.

    And on Thurs­day, Blu­men­thal said on MSNBC Gor­such specif­i­cal­ly told him he “should feel free to men­tion what I said about these attacks being dis­heart­en­ing and demor­al­iz­ing.”

    But none of that stopped Trump from fir­ing off a shot against Blu­men­thal — and at the same time rais­ing ques­tions about the coher­ence of the White House­’s mes­sag­ing.

    “Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, who nev­er fought in Viet­nam when he said for years he had (major lie), now mis­rep­re­sents what Judge Gor­such told him?” Trump tweet­ed Thurs­day morn­ing.

    Sen.Richard Blu­men­thal, who nev­er fought in Viet­nam when he said for years he had (major lie),now mis­rep­re­sents what Judge Gor­such told him?— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Feb­ru­ary 9, 2017

    Gor­such’s crit­i­cism came in response to Trump’s recent crit­i­cism of fed­er­al judges who have ruled against his immi­gra­tion ban or appear poised to do so, in par­tic­u­lar in ref­er­ence to one of the Pres­i­den­t’s tweets slam­ming one of those judges as a “so-called judge.”

    “The opin­ion of this so-called judge, which essen­tial­ly takes law-enforce­ment away from our coun­try, is ridicu­lous and will be over­turned!” Trump tweet­ed last Sat­ur­day.

    ...

    Bon­jean had con­firmed Gor­such called Trump’s tweet about the “so-called judge” “dis­heart­en­ing” and “demor­al­iz­ing” in his con­ver­sa­tion with Blu­men­thal.

    Blu­men­thal, mean­while, stood by his account­ing of Gor­such’s com­ments, telling CNN’s Chris Cuo­mo on “New Day” Thurs­day morn­ing he “absolute­ly and accu­rate­ly” stat­ed what Gor­such told him.

    “I think that the Pres­i­dent needs to hear from Judge Gor­such about exact­ly what he is say­ing to myself and Sen­ate col­leagues,” Blu­men­thal said. “Maybe he sim­ply has­n’t been informed and that’s the rea­son for his tweet.”

    For­mer GOP Sen. Kel­ly Ayotte, who is help­ing shep­herd Gor­such’s nom­i­na­tion on the Hill said in a state­ment Thurs­day Gor­such has told sen­a­tors “he finds any crit­i­cism of a judge’s integri­ty and inde­pen­dence dis­heart­en­ing and demor­al­iz­ing.”

    Ayotte added the judge has made clear he “could not com­ment on any spe­cif­ic cas­es and that judi­cial ethics pre­vent him from com­ment­ing on polit­i­cal mat­ters.”

    Repub­li­can Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka also con­firmed Thurs­day that Gor­such crit­i­cized Trump’s attacks on the fed­er­al judge in a meet­ing with him as well.

    Sasse said Gor­such “got pret­ty pas­sion­ate” about the top­ic, par­tic­u­lar­ly when he asked Gor­such about Trump’s “so-called judge” tweet.

    “This is a guy who welled up with some ener­gy. He said any attack on any broth­ers or sis­ters of the robe is an attack on all judges. He believes in an an inde­pen­dent judi­cia­ry,” Sasse said Thurs­day morn­ing on MSNBC.

    ...

    “With­in a half-hour, Gor­such spokesman Ron Bon­jean, who was tapped by the White House to head com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Gor­such, con­firmed that the nom­i­nee, Gor­such, used those words in his meet­ing with Blu­men­thal. Sev­er­al oth­er sen­a­tors, includ­ing Repub­li­can Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka, lat­er relayed sim­i­lar accounts of Gor­such force­ful­ly crit­i­ciz­ing Trump’s pub­lic attacks on the judi­cia­ry branch.”

    So with­in a half-hour of the reports that Don­ald Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee told Sen­a­tors that he felt Trump’s attacks on the judi­cia­ry were “dis­heart­en­ing” and “demor­al­iz­ing”, mul­ti­ple peo­ple, includ­ing GOP Sen­a­tor Ben Sasse, con­firm the com­ments. And for­mer GOP Sen. Kel­ly Ayotte backed it up. And yet Trump feels com­pelled to tweet out about how it was a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

    Again, is there a method to the mad­ness or is this just mad­ness? Well, if there’s a method to the mad­ness, it’s a method that appar­ent­ly involves telling obvi­ous and uncon­vinc­ing lies that make the audi­ence uncom­fort­able:

    Politi­co

    Trump brings up vote fraud again, this time in meet­ing with sen­a­tors

    ‘An uncom­fort­able silence’ momen­tar­i­ly over­took the room, said one par­tic­i­pant.

    By Eli Stokols

    02/10/17 02:35 PM EST
    Updat­ed 02/10/17 05:30 PM EST

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump can’t stop—won’t stop—talking about the elec­tion.

    On Thurs­day, dur­ing a meet­ing with 10 sen­a­tors that was billed as a lis­ten­ing ses­sion about Supreme Court nom­i­nee Neil Gor­such, the pres­i­dent went off on a famil­iar tan­gent, sug­gest­ing again that he was a vic­tim of wide­spread vot­er fraud, despite the fact that he won the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    As soon as the door closed and the reporters allowed to observe for a few min­utes had been ush­ered out, Trump began to talk about the elec­tion, par­tic­i­pants said, trig­gered by the pres­ence of for­mer New Hamp­shire Sen. Kel­ly Ayotte, who lost her reelec­tion bid in Novem­ber and is now work­ing for Trump as a Capi­tol Hill liai­son, or “Sher­pa,” on the Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion of Judge Neil Gor­such.

    The pres­i­dent claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been vic­to­ri­ous in the Gran­ite State if not for the “thou­sands” of peo­ple who were “brought in on bus­es” from neigh­bor­ing Mass­a­chu­setts to “ille­gal­ly” vote in New Hamp­shire.

    Accord­ing to one par­tic­i­pant who described the meet­ing, “an uncom­fort­able silence” momen­tar­i­ly over­took the room.

    Hillary Clin­ton nar­row­ly won New Hampshire’s four elec­toral votes over Trump by near­ly 3,000 votes. Ayotte’s mar­gin of defeat was even slim­mer: 743 votes.

    The for­mer sen­a­tor could not be reached for com­ment Fri­day, but a GOP source famil­iar with the meet­ing not­ed that Trump also thanked Ayotte twice dur­ing the meet­ing for agree­ing to serve as a con­gres­sion­al emis­sary for Gor­such.

    Trump also teased Ayotte, who dis­tanced her­self from him last sum­mer after he attacked the par­ents of a Mus­lim Gold Star sol­dier for crit­i­ciz­ing him dur­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­ven­tion, say­ing that he wished she’d worked to help his cam­paign the way she was work­ing to help Gor­such. “He told her, ‘You’d have won if you’d been on my train,’” one par­tic­i­pant recalled.

    Dur­ing the meet­ing, Trump also react­ed to Mass­a­chu­setts Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen. Eliz­a­beth War­ren being silenced on the Sen­ate floor while try­ing to read a 1986 let­ter by Coret­ta Scott King and in objec­tion to Alaba­ma Sen. Jeff Ses­sions before he was con­firmed as attor­ney gen­er­al. Accord­ing to par­tic­i­pants in Thursday’s meet­ing, Trump referred to War­ren sev­er­al times as “Poc­a­hon­tas,” the moniker he gave her dur­ing his cam­paign, and told the Democ­rats he was glad War­ren is becom­ing the face of “your par­ty.”

    His per­sis­tent and unfound­ed fraud claim is a sign that Trump, who lost the pop­u­lar vote by near­ly 3 mil­lion votes, con­tin­ues to see him­self as a vic­tim of wide­spread vot­er fraud.

    Just days after tak­ing office last month, Trump tweet­ed a claim that as many as 3 mil­lion to 5 mil­lion peo­ple vot­ed ille­gal­ly in the Novem­ber elec­tion, enough to account for his pop­u­lar vote deficit. He has not fol­lowed through on his vow to over­see a fed­er­al vot­er-fraud inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats who over­see elec­tions at the state lev­el have repeat­ed­ly said there is lit­tle evi­dence of fraud and no need for such an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    The White House did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

    Pressed about Trump’s unfound­ed claims dur­ing a White House brief­ing after Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion, press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer defend­ed the president’s right to make such claims with­out explain­ing why he does so.

    “The pres­i­dent does believe that,” Spicer told reporters. “It’s a belief that he’s main­tained for a while, a con­cern that he has about vot­er fraud. And that’s based on infor­ma­tion that’s pro­vid­ed.”

    Thursday’s meet­ing was an attempt to fos­ter bipar­ti­san sup­port for Gor­such, whose con­fir­ma­tion requires 60 votes in the Sen­ate, where Repub­li­cans hold 52 seats. Attend­ing were: Sens. Joe Manchin, Hei­di Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Lamar Alexan­der, Chris Coons, Shel­ley Moore Capi­to, John Cornyn, Chuck Grass­ley, Joe Don­nel­ly and Michael Ben­net.

    ...

    “Accord­ing to one par­tic­i­pant who described the meet­ing, “an uncom­fort­able silence” momen­tar­i­ly over­took the room.”

    So on the same day Trump bla­tant­ly lies to the world about the verac­i­ty of Neil Gor­such “dis­heart­en­ing” and “demor­al­iz­ing” com­ments, which were con­firmed by for­mer Sen­a­tor Kel­ly Ayotte, Trump holds a closed door meet­ing to dis­cuss that nom­i­na­tion with a group of Sen­a­tors, and also Kel­ly Ayotte, where he makes up anoth­er bla­tant lie. This time about the elec­tion that Kel­ly Ayotte her­self just nar­row­ly lost:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-apocalypse_us_5898f02ee4b040613138a951
    ...

    The pres­i­dent claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been vic­to­ri­ous in the Gran­ite State if not for the “thou­sands” of peo­ple who were “brought in on bus­es” from neigh­bor­ing Mass­a­chu­setts to “ille­gal­ly” vote in New Hamp­shire.

    ...

    Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats who over­see elec­tions at the state lev­el have repeat­ed­ly said there is lit­tle evi­dence of fraud and no need for such an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ...

    And, of course, uncom­fort­able silence fol­lowed. Because that’s what hap­pens when peo­ple real­ize they’re stand­ing next to a crazy per­son. They go silent and try to keep their dis­tance.

    So if there’s a method, it appears to be a method intend­ed to con­vince peo­ple he’s mad. And if that seems like an crazy strat­e­gy, keep in mind that it might make sense to seem mad if you’re con­scious­ly plan­ning on doing some­thing total­ly insane and total­ly hor­ri­ble. At least you’ll sort of have an excuse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 10, 2017, 5:00 pm
  9. A fed­er­al appeals court vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to reject Don­ald Trump’s sev­en-coun­try trav­el ban. So, of course, Trump tweet­ed about it:

    SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Feb­ru­ary 9, 2017

    Wow, all-caps. He seems rather miffed about it. But we should­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly assume that los­ing this court case dis­rupts the Trump/Bannon agen­da. Espe­cial­ly if, as the arti­cle below that includes inter­views with a num­ber of for­mer George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion nation­al secu­ri­ty lawyers and counter-ter­ror­ism offi­cials omi­nous­ly reminds us, that agen­da involves the under­cut­ting of the co-equal­i­ty of the US branch­es of gov­ern­ment.

    Yes, George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials — like John Yoo — are pret­ty con­fi­dent anoth­er ter­ror­ist attack is com­ing (not an out­landish pre­dic­tion) and also appear to be con­cerned that the Trump is about to use ter­ror to grab and abuse exec­u­tive pow­ers and pos­si­bly sus­pend Posse Comi­ta­tus and habeas cor­pus. Folks like John Yoo are pub­licly warn­ing us about this. *gulp*:

    The New York­er

    How Pres­i­dent Trump Could Seize More Pow­er After a Ter­ror­ist Attack

    By Ryan Liz­za
    Feb­ru­ary 7, 2017

    Since Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, nine­ty-four peo­ple have been killed in the Unit­ed States in ten attacks car­ried out by a total of twelve rad­i­cal Islamist ter­ror­ists. Each of the attack­ers was either an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen or a legal res­i­dent. More than half of the nine­ty-four mur­ders occurred last year, when Omar Mateen, who was born on Long Island, killed forty-nine peo­ple at a night club in Orlan­do.

    Accord­ing to the com­pre­hen­sive ter­ror­ism data­base main­tained by the New Amer­i­ca Foun­da­tion, since 9/11 there have been three hun­dred and nine­ty-six peo­ple involved in Amer­i­can ter­ror­ism cas­es, which New Amer­i­ca defines as “indi­vid­u­als who are charged with or died engag­ing in jihadist ter­ror­ism or relat­ed activ­i­ties inside the Unit­ed States, and Amer­i­cans accused of such activ­i­ty abroad.” Eighty-three per cent of these indi­vid­u­als were Amer­i­can cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent res­i­dents. (Sev­en­teen per cent were non-res­i­dents or had an unknown sta­tus.)

    And yet, for more than two weeks, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with high­light­ing a threat that does not exist: jihadist refugees and immi­grants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Soma­lia, Sudan, Syr­ia, and Yemen.

    It’s true that both world­wide ter­ror­ist attacks and ter­ror­ism-relat­ed cas­es against plot­ters in the Unit­ed States have spiked since 2013, an increase large­ly attrib­uted to the fall­out from the Syr­i­an civ­il war and the rise of the Islam­ic State. I talked to sev­er­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts this week, and they all believe that there will be anoth­er attack.

    “I do believe the world faces a seri­ous and grow­ing ter­ror­ist threat,” Evan McMullin, the for­mer C.I.A. offi­cer and Repub­li­can who ran for Pres­i­dent as an inde­pen­dent can­di­date against Trump, said. “But Trump, either by igno­rance or mal­ice, is dis­tort­ing the nature of that threat by tar­get­ing very well-vet­ted immi­grants, includ­ing legal per­ma­nent res­i­dents and refugees. He sim­ply does not have a strong nation­al-secu­ri­ty case to make against these peo­ple, which is why it is rea­son­able to won­der if he has some ulte­ri­or motive for tak­ing such extreme steps against them.”

    Yes­ter­day, Trump’s cam­paign to high­light this threat took a bizarre turn when he accused the media of bury­ing cov­er­age of ter­ror attacks. “It’s got­ten to a point where it’s not even being report­ed,” he said in remarks to troops at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tam­pa. “In many cas­es, the very, very dis­hon­est press doesn’t want to report it. They have their rea­sons.” The White House lat­er released a list of attacks since 2014 that it insist­ed had not received enough atten­tion.

    This is the sec­ond time in a week that Trump has accused oth­ers of not under­stand­ing the threat posed by ter­ror­ism. Over the week­end, he used Twit­ter to attack the fed­er­al judge who put a halt to Trump’s immi­gra­tion ban. He called James L. Robart, who was appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and unan­i­mous­ly con­firmed by the Sen­ate, a “so-called judge,” and lat­er added, “Just can­not believe a judge would put our coun­try in such per­il. If some­thing hap­pens blame him and court sys­tem. Peo­ple pour­ing in. Bad!”

    One of the ques­tions raised by Trump’s claims that the media and the courts have endan­gered the coun­try is what he would do in the event of a ter­ror­ist attack.

    Jack Gold­smith, a for­mer senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cial in the George W. Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, who helped design the post‑9/11 anti-ter­ror legal archi­tec­ture, recent­ly sug­gest­ed that Trump might actu­al­ly want his trav­el ban to be over­turned. That way, in the wake of an attack, he can use the judi­cia­ry as a bogey­man and jus­ti­fy any new efforts to push through more extreme mea­sures.

    I asked Gold­smith and oth­ers what the menu of options might be for a Pres­i­dent Trump empow­ered by the jus­ti­fi­able fears Amer­i­cans would have in the after­math of a seri­ous attack. “If it is a large and grim attack, he might ask for more sur­veil­lance pow­ers inside the U.S. (includ­ing few­er restric­tions on data min­gling and stor­age and queries), more immi­gra­tion con­trol pow­er at the bor­der, an excep­tion to Posse Comi­ta­tus (which pro­hibits the mil­i­tary from law enforce­ment in the home­land), and per­haps more immi­gra­tion-relat­ed deten­tion pow­ers,” Gold­smith wrote in an e‑mail. “In the extreme sce­nario Trump could ask Con­gress to sus­pend the writ of habeas cor­pus, which would cut off the kind of access to courts you are see­ing right now for every­one (or for every class of per­sons for which the writ is sus­pend­ed).”

    He point­ed out that Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln sus­pend­ed the writ of habeas cor­pus and ignored courts that insist­ed he didn’t have such pow­er. “The point of the exam­ple is that the only ques­tion is not what pow­ers Trump might ‘ask for,’ ” Gold­smith said, “but also what pow­ers he might assert or assume or grab, and what he can get away with.”

    John Yoo, who as a lawyer for the George W. Bush Admin­is­tra­tion was the fiercest defend­er of its most extreme post‑9/11 poli­cies, includ­ing the use of tor­ture, recent­ly wrote an Op-Ed in which he said he was alarmed by Trump’s attempt to expand the pow­ers of the exec­u­tive branch. (This was as if Trump had writ­ten an essay argu­ing that he was con­cerned about devel­op­ers adding their names to build­ings in let­ter­ing that was too large.) Yoo told me, “If there is anoth­er ter­ror­ist attack, I could see Trump seek­ing all of the pow­ers that the Pres­i­dent can exer­cise dur­ing wartime. The domes­tic pow­ers would have to be approved by Con­gress, such as lim­i­ta­tions on habeas, domes­tic war­rant­less sur­veil­lance, and an inter­nal secu­ri­ty act. We real­ly haven’t had a sys­tem like that since the Sec­ond World War or the Com­mu­nist cas­es of the nine­teen-fifties.”

    Matt Olsen, the for­mer head of the Nation­al Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Cen­ter, told me that he didn’t agree with Goldsmith’s sug­ges­tion that Trump actu­al­ly wants the exec­u­tive order over­turned, but he said that he thought Trump was lay­ing the ground­work for argu­ments he might make after an attack. “This is a win-win for Trump,” Olsen said. “We can assume there will be anoth­er ter­ror­ist attack in the U.S. If the exec­u­tive order is in place, he will point to the attack as sup­port for the exec­u­tive order and the need to expand it to oth­er coun­tries with bad dudes (Mus­lims). If the exec­u­tive order has been struck down, Trump will blame judges and Democ­rats for the attack.”

    Olsen was also con­cerned that Trump might undo many of the changes that Barack Oba­ma put in place to rein in the excess­es of the Bush era. “As for oth­er options in a post-attack sce­nario, just look back to 9/11,” he said. “C.I.A. black sites, enhanced inter­ro­ga­tions, Git­mo, and war­rant­less sur­veil­lance will all be on the table. In addi­tion, regard­less of nation­al­i­ty, there will be changes to immi­gra­tion and refugee poli­cies.” He added that he could also imag­ine an effort to loosen restric­tions on sur­veil­lance inside the Unit­ed States.

    Todd Bre­asseale, the for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary for pub­lic affairs at the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, was also alarmed. “I had a very sim­i­lar dis­cus­sion with a for­mer senior intel offi­cial on this very issue, before Jack’s col­umn,” he told me. “We both whol­ly believe that Trump needs a bogey­man. But, more impor­tant­ly, he needs dis­trac­tion and a blame source. In ter­ror­ists, he has his bogey­man. In his con­trol of the pre­vail­ing press nar­ra­tive via tweet, he has dis­trac­tion. And, in the judi­cia­ry, he has a source of blame for why his way was right from the begin­ning.” Bre­asseale added, “I am ful­ly con­fi­dent that an attack is exact­ly what he wants and needs.”

    ...

    Trump’s efforts to hype the threat from ter­ror­ism dur­ing a peri­od of domes­tic calm should be regard­ed with extreme skep­ti­cism. As McMullin not­ed, “Trump’s strange focus on the ter­ror­ist threat” was “out of step with real­i­ty at the moment” and was “a tell­tale sign of a leader con­tem­plat­ing poli­cies that would oth­er­wise be unac­cept­able.”

    “Trump’s efforts to hype the threat from ter­ror­ism dur­ing a peri­od of domes­tic calm should be regard­ed with extreme skep­ti­cism. As McMullin not­ed, “Trump’s strange focus on the ter­ror­ist threat” was “out of step with real­i­ty at the moment” and was “a tell­tale sign of a leader con­tem­plat­ing poli­cies that would oth­er­wise be unac­cept­able.”

    Yeah, that’s pret­ty ter­ri­fy­ing. As the arti­cle puts it, when you have fig­ures like John Yoo warn­ing against the use of ter­ror threats as an excuse for exec­u­tive over­reach, it’s “as if Trump had writ­ten an essay argu­ing that he was con­cerned about devel­op­ers adding their names to build­ings in let­ter­ing that was too large”. That just hap­pened, but not for devel­op­ers adding their names to build­ings in over­ly large let­ter­ing. It hap­pened for ter­ror-hys­ter­ics-cat­alyzed exec­u­tive over­reach. *dou­ble gulp*

    And on top of reports in Politi­co that Trump has has “pri­vate­ly expressed dis­be­lief over the abil­i­ty of judges, bureau­crats or law­mak­ers to delay — or even stop — him from fill­ing posi­tions and imple­ment­ing poli­cies”, a recent PPP poll sug­gests a major­i­ty of Trump vot­ers share that sense of dis­be­lief. *triple gulp*

    Rare.US

    Half of Trump vot­ers think the pres­i­dent should just be able to ignore the judi­cial branch when it dis­agrees with him

    Feb­ru­ary 10, 2017 11:23 am

    Pres­i­dent Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion has so far func­tioned as some­thing of an unin­ten­tion­al nation­al civics class, and though there are fair crit­i­cisms to be lev­eled about why these lessons weren’t learned dur­ing the past two admin­is­tra­tions, I’m hap­py to see it hap­pen­ing now.

    This week, the top­ic of study is the role of the judi­cial branch, thanks to the ongo­ing court bat­tle over Trump’s exec­u­tive order tem­porar­i­ly pro­hibit­ing U.S. entrance from sev­en major­i­ty-Mus­lim coun­tries plus all refugee admis­sion.

    When an appeals court upheld a low­er court’s sus­pen­sion of the order, Trump react­ed with Twit­ter rage, a rel­a­tive­ly unsur­pris­ing devel­op­ment after he respond­ed to the first rul­ing by ques­tion­ing the legit­i­ma­cy of the “so-called judge” involved.

    SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Feb­ru­ary 9, 2017

    Accord­ing to Politi­co, Trump has “pri­vate­ly expressed dis­be­lief over the abil­i­ty of judges, bureau­crats or law­mak­ers to delay — or even stop — him from fill­ing posi­tions and imple­ment­ing poli­cies.”

    Many Amer­i­cans share that same dis­be­lief, a new sur­vey by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling finds, with ful­ly one in four say­ing Trump should sim­ply be able to dis­re­gard court deci­sions he doesn’t like.

    ...

    Among Trump vot­ers specif­i­cal­ly, one in two hold that view.

    That is deeply unset­tling.

    It is bad enough that our pres­i­dent clear­ly intends to push the over­grown author­i­ty of the exec­u­tive branch far beyond its con­sti­tu­tion­al lim­its, using and expand­ing every pow­er grab prece­dent set by his pre­de­ces­sors from both par­ties.

    But it is arguably even worse for the future of our polit­i­cal sys­tem that half of the vot­ers who elect­ed Trump are will­ing to com­plete­ly toss out our Constitution’s checks and bal­ances. Seri­ous­ly, can you imag­ine the uproar among these very same peo­ple if Pres­i­dent Oba­ma had open­ly announced he would sim­ply ignore the judi­cia­ry? If he claimed it’s cool for him to just over­ride judges when he dis­agrees with them?

    To be clear, Trump has not made that claim, though it cer­tain­ly seems like he wants to. It should not be dif­fi­cult for us to under­stand how dis­as­trous that would be for the rule of law in this coun­try if Trump, Oba­ma, or lit­er­al­ly any pres­i­dent — no mat­ter how good or bad we think their poli­cies are — did what 51 per­cent of Trump vot­ers want their guy to do.

    Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee, Neil Gor­such, made head­lines this week when he labeled Trump’s “so-called judge” com­ments a “demor­al­iz­ing” and “dis­heart­en­ing” reflec­tion of this administration’s views on the inde­pen­dence and legit­i­ma­cy of the judi­cial branch.

    That may have been a poor strate­gic move by a man whose nom­i­na­tion seems to be one of Trump’s best moves so far — I wouldn’t put it past this pres­i­dent to un-nom­i­nate him — but he was quite right. These poll results are demor­al­iz­ing and dis­heart­en­ing, too.

    ...

    “Many Amer­i­cans share that same dis­be­lief, a new sur­vey by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling finds, with ful­ly one in four say­ing Trump should sim­ply be able to dis­re­gard court deci­sions he doesn’t like.”

    So a quar­ter of Amer­i­cans appear to be sup­port­ive of a pres­i­dent just over­rul­ing the courts. Maybe not all pres­i­dents. That’s not clear. But for Trump that seem to be ok with it. And, of course, this includes half of Trump’s vot­ers:

    ...
    Among Trump vot­ers specif­i­cal­ly, one in two hold that view.

    That is deeply unset­tling.

    It is bad enough that our pres­i­dent clear­ly intends to push the over­grown author­i­ty of the exec­u­tive branch far beyond its con­sti­tu­tion­al lim­its, using and expand­ing every pow­er grab prece­dent set by his pre­de­ces­sors from both par­ties.

    But it is arguably even worse for the future of our polit­i­cal sys­tem that half of the vot­ers who elect­ed Trump are will­ing to com­plete­ly toss out our Constitution’s checks and bal­ances. Seri­ous­ly, can you imag­ine the uproar among these very same peo­ple if Pres­i­dent Oba­ma had open­ly announced he would sim­ply ignore the judi­cia­ry? If he claimed it’s cool for him to just over­ride judges when he dis­agrees with them?

    ...

    “Seri­ous­ly, can you imag­ine the uproar among these very same peo­ple if Pres­i­dent Oba­ma had open­ly announced he would sim­ply ignore the judi­cia­ry? If he claimed it’s cool for him to just over­ride judges when he dis­agrees with them?”

    Yes, it’s unfor­tu­nate­ly not hard to imag­ine what the response would be if Pres­i­dent Oba­ma was express­ing skep­ti­cism that he had to abide by the courts. They’d prob­a­bly be call­ing for impeach­ment at a min­i­mum. And if the Democ­rats had com­plete con­trol of both hous­es of Con­gress like the Repub­li­cans have today and were act­ing as if these mus­ings about hypo­thet­i­cal pow­er grabs was total­ly fine and nor­mal, these same vot­ers would prob­a­bly be call­ing for a coup. Which is sort of what they’re call­ing for today, except with the pres­i­dent being the one to exe­cute it.

    So, just to sum­ma­rize, George W. Bush offi­cials like John Yoo are now open­ly con­cerned about ter­ror being used for extreme exec­u­tive over­reach and a major­i­ty of Trump vot­ers appear to be for it. This is where we are. It’s not quite Bizarro world, but it’s close.

    You have to won­der if John Yoo is going to get water­board­ed some­day for these pub­lic warn­ings. Either way...*quadruple gulp*

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 11, 2017, 3:07 pm
  10. One of these days we’re going to have a 24-hour news cycle that does­n’t involve a sto­ry asso­ci­at­ing some­one on the Trump team also being involved with some­thing of a fascis­tic/­neo-Nazi-ish nature. One of these days. But not today:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    DC

    Did Gor­ka Real­ly Wear A Medal Linked To Nazi Ally To Trump Inau­gur­al Ball?

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land
    Pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 13, 2017, 4:29 PM EDT

    Dur­ing an inter­view with Fox News broad­cast from one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s inau­gur­al balls, soon-to-be White House aide Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka wore a medal that some Hun­gar­i­an news out­lets and schol­ars iden­ti­fied with Mik­lós Hor­thy, the anti-Semit­ic World War II-era leader whose regime wit­nessed the mur­der of some 600,000 Hun­gar­i­an Jews.

    Still days away from offi­cial­ly join­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, Gor­ka, a for­mer Bre­it­bart News edi­tor and self-pro­claimed coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert known for his hard­line views on Islam, effused to Sean Han­ni­ty about the the death of “polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness” in the Trump era. As the inter­view unfold­ed, Fox played clips of the Pres­i­dent and First Lady danc­ing at the ball ear­li­er in the evening.

    Gorka’s choice of dress, a black braid­ed jack­et known as a “boc­skai” adorned with two medals, would­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly catch the eye of an Amer­i­can view­er. But some Hun­gar­i­ans who came across the inter­view inter­pret­ed the get­up as a nod to the knight­ly order of mer­it Hor­thy found­ed in 1920, the Order of Vitéz. Right-wing Hun­gar­i­an media in par­tic­u­lar fix­at­ed on what it saw as Gorka’s call­back to a resur­gent native icon of the far-right.

    Hun­gar­i­an schol­ars who spoke to TPM did not unan­i­mous­ly agree that the medal he wore on inau­gu­ra­tion night could defin­i­tive­ly be iden­ti­fied with Horthy’s Order of Vitéz. But they con­curred that Gorka’s regalia is pop­u­lar today among Hun­gary’s nation­al­ist con­ser­v­a­tives.

    ...

    András Biro-Nagy, a pro­fes­sor at Budapest’s Corv­i­nus Uni­ver­si­ty, where Gor­ka did his Ph.D. stud­ies, said that the “boc­skai” he wore was pop­u­lar dur­ing Hor­thy’s rule and today is often worn by mem­bers of the “right-wing” on spe­cial occa­sions. But he not­ed the medal has a dis­tinct con­no­ta­tion.

    “The medal is a clear sign that he sym­pa­thizes with the Hor­thy era—this medal was award­ed as a state hon­or only between 1920 and 1944,” Biro-Nagy told TPM.

    A few far-right Hun­gar­i­an pub­li­ca­tions wrote up approv­ing sto­ries about Gorka’s attire short­ly after inau­gu­ra­tion.

    “We should focus on his out­fit,” a blog­ger for Valasz, a con­ser­v­a­tive week­ly news mag­a­zine, wrote in a Hun­gar­i­an-lan­guage post that includ­ed a zoomed-in still pho­to of Gor­ka, accord­ing to an Eng­lish-lan­guage trans­la­tion of the post inde­pen­dent­ly com­mis­sioned by TPM.

    “This is new proof that our lit­tle rev­o­lu­tion has won! Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, future advi­sor to Don­ald Trump, appeared on Fox News wear­ing none oth­er than a boc­skai!”

    The post also men­tioned that “the medal with the crown and coat of arms (on the left) recalls the order of knights found­ed by Mik­los Hor­thy.”

    Gorka’s late father, Paul, fled Hun­gary for the Unit­ed King­dom dur­ing a failed 1956 revolt against the Sovi­et-imposed gov­ern­ment. The fly­leaf of Paul Gorka’s book “Budapest Ris­ing” iden­ti­fies him as a recip­i­ent of the Order of Vitéz “for his brav­ery dur­ing the Resis­tance,” pre­sum­ably a nod to his anti-com­mu­nist efforts dur­ing the Sovi­et era. While the medal was award­ed as a state hon­or only until 1944, the Order of Vitéz was recon­sti­tut­ed as a chival­ric order in the late 20th cen­tu­ry and still appears to award a medal sim­i­lar to the one worn by Gor­ka.

    Oth­er U.S. pub­li­ca­tions in recent days have sug­gest­ed that Gor­ka chose to iden­ti­fy him­self with a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor by wear­ing the Order of Vitéz medal on inau­gu­ra­tion night. The lega­cy of Hor­thy him­self remains dis­put­ed with­in Hun­gary, with the far right adopt­ing him as a nation­al­ist sym­bol since the fall of the Iron Cur­tain.

    Hor­thy was a Hun­gar­i­an admi­ral and states­man who con­trolled the coun­try from 1920 through 1944, and entered into an alliance with the Nazis ear­ly in World War II, accord­ing to the U.S Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um. Horthy’s para­mil­i­tary units killed hun­dreds of Jews, and 437,000 Jews were deport­ed to Auschwitz under his watch dur­ing the sum­mer of 1944 alone, per the muse­um.

    Despite that bru­tal lega­cy, in the last few years Hor­thy has enjoyed a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­i­ty among Hungary’s ultra­na­tion­al­ist far-right, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Job­bik par­ty, whose lead­ers have been accused of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. Stat­ues of Hor­thy have been erect­ed in towns across Hun­gary, and con­ser­v­a­tives have tak­en to wear­ing boc­skai jack­ets to for­mal events.

    The con­tem­po­rary right-wing sees Hor­thy as a patri­ot­ic strong­man who helped rebuild Hun­gary after the dev­as­ta­tion of World War I, while the left views him as a shame­ful sym­bol of the coun­try’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis, as Reuters has detailed. Horthy’s Order of Vitéz has a sim­i­lar­ly com­plex lega­cy, as the U.S. State Depart­ment con­sid­ered it an orga­ni­za­tion under Nazi con­trol dur­ing World War II.

    George Deák, an inde­pen­dent his­to­ri­an and an asso­ciate at Har­vard University’s Davis Cen­ter for Russ­ian and Eurasian Stud­ies, described the Order of Vitéz as a “taint­ed” but ambigu­ous sym­bol and cau­tioned to TPM that he could not say defin­i­tive­ly that Gor­ka was wear­ing the order’s medal in the pho­tos from the Lib­er­ty Ball, one of sev­er­al inau­gur­al balls.

    Deák not­ed that the chief archi­tects of the 1944 mass depor­ta­tion of Hun­gar­i­an Jews, Sec­re­tary of State Lás­zló Endre and Lt. Colonel Lás­zló Fer­enczy, were “proud mem­bers of the order.” He point­ed out a small num­ber of wealthy Jews allied them­selves with the order as well.

    “Anti-Semi­tism was prob­a­bly some­thing shared among most of the mem­bers of that group, but it wasn’t explic­it­ly anti-Semit­ic,” he said.

    Adri­enn Miz­sei, a Hun­gar­i­an lan­guage pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia, told TPM that the medal of the Order of Vitéz became some­thing of a hot com­mod­i­ty after the fall of social­ism in Hun­gary. Despite Horthy’s WWII-era lega­cy, she said wear­ing the medal was not nec­es­sar­i­ly seen as an endorse­ment of that lead­er’s anti-Semit­ic views.

    “You can twist it in any way you want,” Miz­sei told TPM, say­ing it could be inter­pret­ed as Gor­ka “hon­or­ing his dad’s her­itage.”

    Nev­er­the­less, it remains an unde­ni­ably loaded sym­bol.

    Asked if she would ever wear such a medal in pub­lic, Miz­sei said, “Oh my God, no!”

    “Despite that bru­tal lega­cy, in the last few years Hor­thy has enjoyed a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­i­ty among Hungary’s ultra­na­tion­al­ist far-right, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Job­bik par­ty, whose lead­ers have been accused of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. Stat­ues of Hor­thy have been erect­ed in towns across Hun­gary, and con­ser­v­a­tives have tak­en to wear­ing boc­skai jack­ets to for­mal events.”

    So was this a Nazi shout-out or just a far-right Nazi-col­lab­o­ra­tor shout-out? Both?

    These are the fun kinds of ques­tions we get to ask about the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Pret­ty much every day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 13, 2017, 4:39 pm
  11. @Pterrafractyl–

    Far less sub­ject to revi­sion­ist inter­pre­ta­tion is Stephen Ban­non’s affin­i­ty for fas­cist philoso­pher Julius Evola.

    An influ­ence on Mus­soli­ni, Evola even­tu­al­ly aban­doned them for the Nazi SS, with whom he was exten­sive­ly net­worked.

    Here’s the “Times” sto­ry: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/world/europe/bannon-vatican-julius-evola-fascism.html?_r=0

    For The Record has high­light­ed Evola for years.

    An overview of this guy, beloved by Stephen Ban­non, is here:

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-233-kevin-coogans-conceptualization-of-the-order/

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 13, 2017, 9:38 pm
  12. Well, with the res­ig­na­tion of Michael Fly­nn as Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor over the phone calls he was mak­ing to Rus­si­a’s Ambas­sador con­tra­dict­ing US pol­i­cy on the same day then-Pres­i­dent Oba­ma announced sanc­tions against Rus­sia for alleged pro-Trump med­dling in the 2016 elec­tions (and then lat­er deny­ing such dis­cus­sions of hte sanc­tions took place), it looks like the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is get­ting an ear­ly start on what will no doubt be an long list of offens­es. Poten­tial­ly pros­e­cutable offens­es:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Big Trou­ble

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 14, 2017, 3:46 PM EDT

    Anoth­er shoe seems to have dropped. The New York Times just report­ed that in the short win­dow of time between Pres­i­dent Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion on Jan­u­ary 20th and Act­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sal­ly Yates warn­ing to the White House on Jan­u­ary 26th, the FBI inter­viewed Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor Michael Fly­nn about his con­ver­sa­tions with Russ­ian Ambas­sador Sergey Kislyak on Decem­ber 29th, 2016.

    What the Times sto­ry does not say is what Fly­nn said. But the log­ic of the report cer­tain­ly leaves the impres­sion that Fly­nn was less than truth­ful. If that’s the case, the Fly­n­n’s dis­missal just went from being a polit­i­cal scan­dal to major legal jeop­ardy. You can’t lie to the FBI and peo­ple are rou­tine­ly (often too rou­tine­ly) pros­e­cut­ed for doing so.

    In the Times words ...

    F.B.I. agents inter­viewed Michael T. Fly­nn when he was nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er in the first days of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion about his con­ver­sa­tions with the Russ­ian ambas­sador, cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials said on Tues­day.

    At the risk of stat­ing the obvi­ous, this inter­view must have been in the con­text of the much dis­cussed but still lit­tle under­stood counter-intel­li­gence probe scru­ti­niz­ing Fly­n­n’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

    “What the Times sto­ry does not say is what Fly­nn said. But the log­ic of the report cer­tain­ly leaves the impres­sion that Fly­nn was less than truth­ful. If that’s the case, the Fly­n­n’s dis­missal just went from being a polit­i­cal scan­dal to major legal jeop­ardy. You can’t lie to the FBI and peo­ple are rou­tine­ly (often too rou­tine­ly) pros­e­cut­ed for doing so.

    Lying to the FBI. Uh oh. At least ‘uh oh’ if that’s what Fly­nn did. And he’s actu­al­ly inves­ti­gat­ed and charges are actu­al­ly brought. If all that hap­pens then, yeah, uh oh for Fly­nn. And quite pos­si­bly ‘uh oh’ for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion in gen­er­al. Includ­ing Trump. But, of course, whether or not any of these ‘uh oh’s turn into full blown ‘oh no!‘s for the Trump team is going to depend quite a bit on whether or not there are any seri­ous inves­ti­ga­tions. Or any inves­ti­ga­tions at all. Because if not, all those ‘uh oh’s turn into ‘phew!‘s.

    And so far, it’s look­ing like there’s going to be a lot of ‘phew!‘s for the Trump team:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Livewire

    GOP Over­sight Chair Says His Com­mit­tee Won’t Inves­ti­gate Fly­nn

    By Esme Cribb
    Pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 14, 2017, 11:19 AM EDT

    House Over­sight Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jason Chaf­fetz (R‑UT) said on Tues­day that his pan­el will not inves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances that led to for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­n­n’s res­ig­na­tion.

    “I think that sit­u­a­tion has tak­en care of itself,” Chaf­fetz told reporters, as quot­ed by The Hill. “I think he did the right thing step­ping down.”

    Chaf­fet­z’s office did not respond to mul­ti­ple requests for com­ment by TPM.

    Chaf­fetz said that the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee is inves­ti­gat­ing Russ­ian hacks relat­ed to the 2016 elec­tion and that the cir­cum­stances of Fly­n­n’s res­ig­na­tion do not fall under the “purview” of his com­mit­tee.

    “It’s not some­thing the Over­sight Com­mit­tee can actu­al­ly look at because sources and meth­ods are the exclu­sive purview of the Intel Com­mit­tee,” he said.

    House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Devin Nunes (R‑CA) said ear­li­er Tues­day that he does not plan to inves­ti­gate Fly­n­n’s con­ver­sa­tions with Trump about his calls with Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States.

    ...

    ““I think that sit­u­a­tion has tak­en care of itself,” Chaf­fetz told reporters, as quot­ed by The Hill. “I think he did the right thing step­ping down.””

    Aha! The sit­u­a­tion has already “tak­en care of itself.” So says the chair­man of the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee. Plus, accord­ing to Chaf­fetz, no inves­ti­ga­tion is need­ed because the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee is already inves­ti­gat­ing the alleged Russ­ian hacks. And the chair­man of the House Intel­li­gene Com­mit­tee has already said that it’s not going to be inves­ti­gat­ing Fly­nn. Phew!

    Now, this does­n’t mean there won’t be any con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tions at all. Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell has already said a Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee inves­ti­ga­tion is “high­ly like­ly.” How thor­ough those inves­ti­ga­tions are remains to be seen, but they’ll pre­sum­ably hap­pen in some form or anoth­er.

    So there might be some inves­ti­ga­tions of some sort, just not in the House. And that means it’s prob­a­bly a good time remind our­selves of the “years” of inves­ti­ga­tions Jason Chaf­fetz was promis­ing just a few months ago if Hillary Clin­ton won the pres­i­den­cy:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    House Repub­li­cans are already prepar­ing for ‘years’ of inves­ti­ga­tions of Clin­ton

    By David Weigel Octo­ber 26, 2016

    SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Jason Chaf­fetz, the Utah con­gress­man wrap­ping up his first term atop the pow­er­ful House Over­sight Com­mit­tee, unen­dorsed Don­ald Trump weeks ago. That freed him up to pre­pare for some­thing else: spend­ing years, come Jan­u­ary, prob­ing the record of a Pres­i­dent Hillary Clin­ton.

    “It’s a tar­get-rich envi­ron­ment,” the Repub­li­can said in an inter­view in Salt Lake City’s sub­urbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of mate­r­i­al already lined up. She has four years of his­to­ry at the State Depart­ment, and it ain’t good.”

    In a tweet Wednes­day night, Chaf­fetz reaf­firmed his dis­taste for Clin­ton and his refusal to endorse Trump — but reversed his plans not to vote for the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee.

    If Repub­li­cans retain con­trol of the House, some­thing that GOP-friend­ly maps make pos­si­ble even in the event of a Trump loss, Clin­ton will become the first pres­i­dent since George H.W. Bush to imme­di­ate­ly face a House Over­sight Com­mit­tee con­trolled by the oppo­si­tion par­ty. (Bill Clin­ton, George W. Bush and Barack Oba­ma lost Con­gress lat­er in their pres­i­den­cies.)

    And oth­er Repub­li­can lead­ers say they sup­port Chaffetz’s efforts — rais­ing the specter of more par­ti­san acri­mo­ny between them and the White House for the next four years.

    “The rig­or­ous over­sight con­duct­ed by House Repub­li­cans has already brought to light trou­bling devel­op­ments in the [Hillary] Clin­ton email scan­dal,” the office of House Speak­er Paul D. Ryan (R‑Wis.) said in a state­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Post. “The speak­er sup­ports [Oversight’s] inves­tiga­tive efforts fol­low­ing where the evi­dence leads, espe­cial­ly where it shows the need for changes in the law.”

    And the Over­sight Com­mit­tee may not be the only House pan­el ready for par­ti­san bat­tle. While the Select Com­mit­tee on Beng­hazi appears to have fin­ished its work, Rep. Jim Jor­dan (R‑Ohio), a com­mit­tee mem­ber who says Clin­ton might have per­jured her­self on ques­tions about her email, said recent­ly that he wants the com­mit­tee to con­tin­ue.

    On the cam­paign trail, Repub­li­cans run­ning for every office con­fi­dent­ly talk about Clin­ton fac­ing crim­i­nal charges one day.

    “Lady Jus­tice doesn’t see black or white,” Rep. Ken Buck (R‑Colo.) said Wednes­day at a ral­ly in Love­land. “She doesn’t see male or female. She does’t see rich or poor. But soon, lady Jus­tice will see Hillary Clin­ton.”

    ...

    The neg­a­tive feel­ings toward Clin­ton — the cer­tain­ty, in con­ser­v­a­tive media, that she is “crooked” — could put pres­sure on Repub­li­cans from the first moments of Clinton’s pres­i­den­cy. Asked whether inves­ti­ga­tions could lead to extend­ed polit­i­cal crises, with echoes of Water­gate, Chaf­fetz said it would depend on Clin­ton and her team.

    “It depends on how coop­er­a­tive they are, how seri­ous­ly they take it,” Chaf­fetz said. “If they con­tin­ue to erect walls and shore up the tur­rets, then, yeah, it’s going to be a bat­tle. But if they act like they’re sup­posed to, if they com­ply with sub­poe­nas and actu­al­ly respond to requests from Con­gress, well, our repub­lic requires that.”

    The one thing Chaf­fetz will not con­sid­er is an elec­tion that goes bad­ly against the GOP. He sees the Over­sight Com­mit­tee as “the tip of the spear,” with a valu­able role to play in chal­leng­ing the exec­u­tive. If Repub­li­cans lose the major­i­ty, Chaf­fetz has no Plan B.

    “Heav­en help us!” said Chaf­fetz, laugh­ing. “Please, no! I’m not even going to think about that one. I can’t even utter the sen­tence out loud.”

    ““It’s a tar­get-rich envi­ron­ment,” the Repub­li­can said in an inter­view in Salt Lake City’s sub­urbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of mate­r­i­al already lined up. She has four years of his­to­ry at the State Depart­ment, and it ain’t good.””

    Well look at that: had Hillary won, Jason Chaf­fetz already had two years of inves­ti­ga­tions ready to go from ‘Day One’. And yet here we are with less than a month into the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and a scan­dal pos­si­bly involv­ing lying to the FBI — and maybe a vio­la­tion of the Logan Act that bars pri­vate cit­i­zens from inter­fer­ing with US diplo­mat­ic rela­tions — and yet Jason Chaf­fetz sud­den­ly has no appetite to inves­ti­gate. Or at least no appetite to inves­ti­gate the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. As Chaf­fetz made clear on inau­gu­ra­tion day he’s still pret­ty inter­est­ed in inves­ti­gat­ing Hillary:

    Busi­ness Insid­er

    House Over­sight chair­man promis­es to keep inves­ti­gat­ing Hillary Clin­ton while post­ing inau­gur­al pic­ture with her

    Maxwell Tani

    Jan. 20, 2017, 5:09 PM

    Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz promised that just because he shook Hillary Clin­ton’s hand at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion does­n’t mean he’ll aban­don his inves­ti­ga­tion of her.

    In an Insta­gram post on Fri­day, the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee chair­man said he was “pleased” Clin­ton was­n’t elect­ed and vowed to pur­sue his inves­ti­ga­tion into her use of a pri­vate email serv­er while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state.

    “So pleased she is not pres­i­dent. I thanked her for her ser­vice and wished her luck. The inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues,” he wrote.

    Though the FBI rec­om­mend­ed not pros­e­cut­ing Clin­ton over her use of a pri­vate email serv­er, Chaf­fetz promised after the elec­tion to con­tin­ue his inde­pen­dent House probe.

    “Just because there was a polit­i­cal elec­tion does­n’t mean it goes away,” Chaf­fetz said ear­li­er this month.

    ...

    “In an Insta­gram post on Fri­day, the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee chair­man said he was “pleased” Clin­ton was­n’t elect­ed and vowed to pur­sue his inves­ti­ga­tion into her use of a pri­vate email serv­er while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state.”

    So as calls for inves­ti­ga­tions in House Over­sight Com­mit­tee inevitably grow as the Trump team’s var­i­ous scan­dals con­tin­ue to trick­le in over the years, don’t for­get, there are inves­ti­ga­tions tak­ing place in that com­mit­tee. Inves­ti­ga­tions of Hillary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 14, 2017, 4:42 pm
  13. Of all the ques­tions raised by the res­ig­na­tion of Michael Fly­nn as Don­ald Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor, per­haps that most imme­di­ate ques­tion for the Trump team is “who’s next?” And despite ear­ly indi­ca­tions that deputy Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor K.T. McFar­land might be the next Trump Team mem­ber out the door, it sounds like she’s stay­ing. At least for now. So...who’s next?

    Well, if the Breitbart/Roger Stone/Alex Jones fac­tion of the Trump base of sup­port­ers have their way, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is next to go. Along with what they describe as the 50 anti-Trump “sleep­er cells” scat­tered through­out the gov­ern­ment they say Priebus is pro­tect­ing:

    The Atlantic

    The Nation­al­ist Right Is Com­ing for Reince Priebus

    Furi­ous over the ouster of Mike Fly­nn, Trump loy­al­ists in the right-wing media are blam­ing the for­mer RNC chair for the admin­is­tra­tion’s set­backs.

    Rosie Gray
    2/14/2017 5:24 PM ET

    Bre­it­bart News has a tar­get in its crosshairs fol­low­ing the depar­ture of for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Mike Fly­nn from the White House in a cas­cade of scan­dal over his con­tacts with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

    Tar­get­ing Priebus, who leads the fac­tion of Trump aides that is com­posed of expe­ri­enced estab­lish­ment polit­i­cal hands, is real­ly just a stand-in for a larg­er con­flict about the future of Trump­ism in the White House. Bre­it­bart News is treat­ing Flynn’s ouster as the first sal­vo in a war against those in the admin­is­tra­tion they deem insuf­fi­cient­ly loy­al to Trump. Back­ing up Bre­it­bart are legions of oth­er Trump loy­al­ists in the right-wing media sphere. And their angry reac­tion to Flynn’s exit sig­nals the unpop­u­lar­i­ty of the move with a vocal seg­ment of Trump’s base.

    Trump loy­al­ists — mean­ing the true believ­ers who sup­port­ed Trump from the start, not Repub­li­can politi­cos who became attached lat­er on — have been pri­vate­ly mus­ing about get­ting rid of Priebus. Now, that mus­ing is going pub­lic. “I think this is Pearl Har­bor for the true Trump sup­port­ers, the Trump loy­al­ists,” said Roger Stone, a for­mer Trump cam­paign advis­er and long­time Repub­li­can oper­a­tive who still has a rela­tion­ship with Trump. “I believe Reince Priebus moved on Gen­er­al Fly­nn and I think he intends to move on Steve Ban­non and Stephen Miller next. He is not serv­ing the pres­i­dent well. The peo­ple he hired are loy­al to the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, not the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.”

    At Bre­it­bart, the right-wing out­let that until recent­ly was run by White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non and has served as a loy­al defend­er of Trump­ism, the nar­ra­tive was set ear­ly with a piece by edi­tor-at-large Joel Pol­lak ques­tion­ing the role of U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies in the leaks that brought down Fly­nn. Pol­lak and oth­er Trump defend­ers are argu­ing that the real sto­ry is the fact of the leaks them­selves, and not what was leaked.

    “The fourth and most wor­ry­ing expla­na­tion is that the gov­ern­ment was not mere­ly mon­i­tor­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of Russ­ian diplo­mats, but of the Trump tran­si­tion team itself,” Pol­lak wrote. “The fact that the con­tents of Flynn’s phone conversation—highly sen­si­tive intelligence—were leaked to the media sug­gests that some­one with access to that infor­ma­tion also has a polit­i­cal axe to grind.”

    (Pollak’s argu­ment mirror’s Trump’s own mes­sage, deliv­ered in a tweet on Tues­day morn­ing: “The real sto­ry here is why are there so many ille­gal leaks com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton? Will these leaks be hap­pen­ing as I deal on N.Korea etc?”)

    Tues­day morn­ing, Bre­it­bart’s Wash­ing­ton Polit­i­cal Edi­tor Matt Boyle—an ardent Trump sup­port­er and known ally of Bannon—came out with a splashy scoop: “As Fly­nn Resigns, Priebus Future In Doubt As Trump Allies Cir­cu­late List of Alter­nate Chief of Staff Can­di­dates. “

    Boyle’s sto­ry cites “sources close to the pres­i­dent” and “mul­ti­ple sources close to Pres­i­dent Trump with inter­nal knowl­edge of White House oper­a­tions” blam­ing Priebus for not mov­ing cab­i­net con­fir­ma­tions along quick­ly enough and for the “botched roll­out” of Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial exec­u­tive order ban­ning peo­ple from sev­en pre­dom­i­nant­ly Mus­lim coun­tries from enter­ing the Unit­ed States. The order and sub­se­quent fall­out threw into stark relief the con­trast between the Ban­non-esque and more tra­di­tion­al wings of the White House; the staffer who bore most of the blame pub­licly was Stephen Miller, the White House senior pol­i­cy advis­er who played a key role in the trav­el ban and who has close rela­tion­ships with Bre­it­bart reporters dat­ing back to the effort to scut­tle the Sen­ate Gang of 8 immi­gra­tion reform bill in 2013.

    The sto­ry accus­es Priebus of know­ing about anti-Trump “sleep­er cells” hid­den through­out the gov­ern­ment.

    White House and oth­er gov­ern­ment sources say there are as many as 50 of them through­out gov­ern­ment, and Priebus has full knowl­edge of their where­abouts, who they are, and what poten­tial for dam­age they may cause,” Boyle report­ed. “He is not doing any­thing about it, these sources add.”

    Purg­ing “sleep­er cells” of non-polit­i­cal gov­ern­ment employ­ees would be ille­gal, accord­ing to Richard Painter, for­mer chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, and for­mer Oba­ma White House ethics czar Norm Eisen.

    It’s “not legal to fire them if they have civ­il ser­vice jobs,” Painter said in an email. “Plen­ty of Bush peo­ple got those jobs in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and they were very help­ful. This ‘sleep­er cell’ rhetoric is high­ly offen­sive in treat­ing peo­ple of the oth­er polit­i­cal par­ty like ter­ror­ists.”

    “You are not per­mit­ted to fire gov­ern­ment employ­ees willy nil­ly just because Bre­it­bart accus­es them of being sleep­er cell mem­bers,” Eisen said in an email. “If some are civ­il ser­vants, they are enti­tled to the full pro­tec­tion of civ­il ser­vice law.”

    The sto­ry raised imme­di­ate spec­u­la­tion that either Ban­non or Miller had plant­ed it.

    “Can you imag­ine Boyle run­ning this against Ban­non’s wish­es? No chance,” said one promi­nent Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­can with knowl­edge of the White House, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty for pro­fes­sion­al rea­sons. “He was the edi­tor of Bre­it­bart about fif­teen min­utes ago. This is just so brazen. How’s he going to sit through meet­ings from Reince?”

    Boyle did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    But whether Ban­non was actu­al­ly involved is unclear. A source close to Ban­non who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because they were not autho­rized to speak pub­licly pushed back on this idea, argu­ing that there is no rea­son to believe Ban­non wants Priebus pushed out right now; Priebus’s knowl­edge of Wash­ing­ton and of Capi­tol Hill remains use­ful to enact­ing Bannon’s agen­da. And The New York Times report­ed that it was actu­al­ly Ban­non who asked Fly­nn to resign over the week­end.

    A senior White House offi­cial called the Bre­it­bart sto­ry “false in every sin­gle pos­si­ble respect” and dis­missed the idea that Miller or Ban­non had been behind it.

    Anoth­er White House offi­cial speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty also said the Bre­it­bart sto­ry was “com­plete­ly false” and that “who­ev­er placed it has no knowl­edge of the inner work­ings of the admin­is­tra­tion.”

    “I can also tell you that Ban­non and Miller are very unhap­py with the sto­ry and con­sid­er it an attack on a close friend,” the offi­cial said.

    Ban­non and Priebus have made a show of close­ness recent­ly, even giv­ing a joint inter­view to New York mag­a­zine last week in which they pro­fessed to fall asleep on the phone with each oth­er and joked about giv­ing each oth­er back rubs.

    But the effort hasn’t tamped down anti-Priebus ardor in what Buz­zFeed News’s Char­lie Warzel has dubbed the “New Media Upside Down”: the con­stel­la­tion of pro-Trump fringe (or not so fringe) right-wing media per­son­al­i­ties and orga­ni­za­tions that have grown increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful. Flynn’s affin­i­ty for Rus­sia and traf­fick­ing in con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have endeared him to many in this group.

    Flynn’s son, Michael Fly­nn Jr., reac­ti­vat­ed his Twit­ter account the morn­ing after Flynn’s fir­ing. He had delet­ed it after call­ing the trav­el ban a “Mus­lim ban” last month. Fly­nn Jr., who was eject­ed from the tran­si­tion team for his role in spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion like the “Piz­za­gate” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, has spent the day ampli­fy­ing alt-right and alt-right-adja­cent Twit­ter accounts, includ­ing Infowars edi­tor-at-large Paul Joseph Wat­son, who wrote that “The res­ig­na­tion of Gen­er­al Fly­nn is part of an ongo­ing effort by the mil­i­tary-indus­tri­al com­plex to sab­o­tage Pres­i­dent Trump and re-assert con­trol over for­eign pol­i­cy.”

    Wik­ileaks has also weighed in, the some­time pro-leak orga­ni­za­tion tweet­ing “Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor Michael Fly­nn resigns after desta­bi­liza­tion cam­paign by US spies, Democ­rats, press.”

    “The base was not hap­py when [Priebus] was appoint­ed chief of staff,” said Mike Cer­novich, a “new right” blog­ger and Twit­ter personality.“We knew he’d work hard to sab­o­tage Trump’s agen­da.”

    ...

    “Tar­get­ing Priebus, who leads the fac­tion of Trump aides that is com­posed of expe­ri­enced estab­lish­ment polit­i­cal hands, is real­ly just a stand-in for a larg­er con­flict about the future of Trump­ism in the White House. Bre­it­bart News is treat­ing Flynn’s ouster as the first sal­vo in a war against those in the admin­is­tra­tion they deem insuf­fi­cient­ly loy­al to Trump. Back­ing up Bre­it­bart are legions of oth­er Trump loy­al­ists in the right-wing media sphere. And their angry reac­tion to Flynn’s exit sig­nals the unpop­u­lar­i­ty of the move with a vocal seg­ment of Trump’s base.”

    Yep, the Bre­it­barters want a purge, and the res­ig­na­tion of Fly­nn, along with the gov­ern­ment leaks that pre­cip­i­tat­ed that res­ig­na­tion, just might give them the excuse to do it. At least if this Bre­it­bart sto­ry is accu­rate.

    And is the sto­ry accu­rate? Well, despite the denials for the admin­is­tra­tion, it is rather hard to ignore the fact that Bre­it­bart isn’t just some ran­dom far-right rag;

    ...
    The sto­ry raised imme­di­ate spec­u­la­tion that either Ban­non or Miller had plant­ed it.

    “Can you imag­ine Boyle run­ning this against Ban­non’s wish­es? No chance,” said one promi­nent Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­can with knowl­edge of the White House, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty for pro­fes­sion­al rea­sons. “He was the edi­tor of Bre­it­bart about fif­teen min­utes ago. This is just so brazen. How’s he going to sit through meet­ings from Reince?”

    Boyle did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    But whether Ban­non was actu­al­ly involved is unclear. A source close to Ban­non who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because they were not autho­rized to speak pub­licly pushed back on this idea, argu­ing that there is no rea­son to believe Ban­non wants Priebus pushed out right now; Priebus’s knowl­edge of Wash­ing­ton and of Capi­tol Hill remains use­ful to enact­ing Bannon’s agen­da. And The New York Times report­ed that it was actu­al­ly Ban­non who asked Fly­nn to resign over the week­end.
    ...

    So, on the one hand, it’s hard to imag­ine Bre­it­bart not get­ting Ban­non’s approval for such an incen­di­ary sto­ry before pub­lish­ing it. On the oth­er hand, accord­ing to a source close to Ban­non, there’s no rea­son to believe Ban­non wants Priebug pushed out right now, because Priebus is use­ful in push­ing through Ban­non’s agen­da.

    Of course, if Ban­non real­ly did believe that Priebus was pro­tect­ing an anti-Trump fac­tion with­in the gov­ern­ment it’s not hard to see how the cal­cu­lus behind Priebus’s per­ceived util­i­ty to Ban­non would get rapid­ly reassessed, which is why it’s not very hard to believe that that Bre­it­bart arti­cle real­ly was an open­ing sal­vo in an intra-White House war on those deemed not loy­al enough. And if that’s the case, it does­n’t sound like the purg­ing is going to be lim­it­ed to the White House:

    ...

    The sto­ry accus­es Priebus of know­ing about anti-Trump “sleep­er cells” hid­den through­out the gov­ern­ment.

    “White House and oth­er gov­ern­ment sources say there are as many as 50 of them through­out gov­ern­ment, and Priebus has full knowl­edge of their where­abouts, who they are, and what poten­tial for dam­age they may cause,” Boyle report­ed. “He is not doing any­thing about it, these sources add.”

    ...

    A Bre­it­bart-led witch-hunt of non-loy­al gov­ern­ment employ­ees. That sure appears to be what the Bre­it­bart crew has in mind. And the way Bre­it­bart puts it, Reince Priebus is the key to dis­cov­er­ing these “sleep­er cells” and fir­ing them. Pos­si­bly ille­gal­ly fir­ing them:

    ...
    Purg­ing “sleep­er cells” of non-polit­i­cal gov­ern­ment employ­ees would be ille­gal, accord­ing to Richard Painter, for­mer chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, and for­mer Oba­ma White House ethics czar Norm Eisen.

    It’s “not legal to fire them if they have civ­il ser­vice jobs,” Painter said in an email. “Plen­ty of Bush peo­ple got those jobs in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and they were very help­ful. This ‘sleep­er cell’ rhetoric is high­ly offen­sive in treat­ing peo­ple of the oth­er polit­i­cal par­ty like ter­ror­ists.”

    “You are not per­mit­ted to fire gov­ern­ment employ­ees willy nil­ly just because Bre­it­bart accus­es them of being sleep­er cell mem­bers,” Eisen said in an email. “If some are civ­il ser­vants, they are enti­tled to the full pro­tec­tion of civ­il ser­vice law.”

    ...

    “You are not per­mit­ted to fire gov­ern­ment employ­ees willy nil­ly just because Bre­it­bart accus­es them of being sleep­er cell mem­bers”

    No Breibart-led civ­il ser­vice witch-hunts allowed. Those are the rules. Rules that a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tion of Trump’s pow­er base would like him to break, includ­ing prob­a­bly Ban­non and Miller.

    Of course, if this “sleep­er cell” sto­ry is true, that means this big Bre­it­bart­ian loy­al­ty purge is high­ly depen­dent on one guy: Reince Priebus. After all, he’s the guy that appar­ent­ly knows where the “sleep­er cells” are!

    It rais­es the ques­tion, if Priebus is real­ly some sort of anti-Trump infil­tra­tor, how is team Bre­it­bart going to per­suade him to give up the iden­ti­ties of all the dis­loy­al gov­ern­ment employ­ees when they’ve already declared him an ene­my of the Trump regime?

    And per­haps that’s one of the main goals of the Bre­it­bart sto­ry: by declar­ing the exis­tence of dis­loy­al “sleep­er cells” that only a dis­loy­al Priebus can iden­ti­fy, the Bre­it­bart crew is devel­op­ing a nar­ra­tive that could be used to purge any exec­u­tive branch employ­ee who isn’t a Bre­it­bart nut-job. You can’t have a wide­spread witch-hunt if you already know who the witch­es are.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 14, 2017, 8:45 pm
  14. Robert Par­ry’s essay “Trump Caves On Fly­n­n’s Res­ig­na­tion” sug­gests the Deep State has won a round over the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.
    How­ev­er the Under­ground Reich (through lieu­tenants like Ban­non, Miller, Ses­sions) knows how to play a long game.
    Dave you’ve not­ed the pow­er strug­gle going on with­in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion between the UR and the Deep State.
    Do you see Ban­non et al set­ting up Trump for removal with an eye toward Pence as the pres­i­dent-in-wait­ing?

    Posted by Dennis | February 15, 2017, 1:38 pm
  15. Remem­ber all those reports about all the fun “facts” that kids in Louisiana were learn­ing in schools after then-Gov­er­nor Bob­by Jin­dal decid­ed to exper­i­ment with a pub­lic vouch­ers for pri­vate schools, includ­ing reli­gious schools? Well, it sounds like kids across the US will have the priv­i­lege of learn­ing things like the Loch Ness Mon­ster is a dinosaur that proves evo­lu­tion isn’t real. At least that’s what will hap­pen if the far-right Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy’s (CNP) rec­om­men­da­tions for the new Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, Bet­sy DeVos, are actu­al­ly imple­ment­ed. And while it might seem absurd to imag­ine that even a GOP admin­is­tra­tion would back such a move at a nation­al lev­el, it might seem less absurd when you fac­tor in that the CNP is basi­cal­ly push­ing the same agen­da that DeVos her­self has long cham­pi­oned. And DeVos donates to the group. And her par­ents were both lead­ers of the group. And Steve Ban­non and Kellyanne Con­way served on its exec­u­tive com­mit­tee:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive group: Trump, DeVos should dis­man­tle Edu­ca­tion Depart­ment and bring God into class­rooms

    By Emma Brown
    Feb­ru­ary 15, 2017 at 4:10 PM

    A pol­i­cy man­i­festo from an influ­en­tial con­ser­v­a­tive group with ties to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos, urges the dis­man­tling of the Edu­ca­tion Depart­ment and bring­ing God into Amer­i­can class­rooms.

    The five-page doc­u­ment pro­duced by the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy calls for a “restora­tion of edu­ca­tion in Amer­i­ca” that would min­i­mize the fed­er­al role, pro­mote reli­gious schools and home school­ing and enshrine “his­toric Judeo-Chris­t­ian prin­ci­ples” as a basis for instruc­tion.

    Names of the council’s mem­bers are close­ly held. But the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter pub­lished a 2014 mem­ber­ship direc­to­ry show­ing that Stephen K. Ban­non — now chief White House strate­gist for Pres­i­dent Trump — was a mem­ber and that Kellyanne Con­way — now coun­selor to the pres­i­dent — served on the council’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

    DeVos was not list­ed as a mem­ber, but her moth­er, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, was name­don the council’s board of gov­er­nors. Her father-in-law, Amway founder Richard DeVos Sr., twice served as pres­i­dent, most recent­ly from 1990 to 1993. And she and her hus­band have giv­en mon­ey to the coun­cil as recent­ly as 2007 through their fam­i­ly foun­da­tion, accord­ing to fed­er­al tax records..

    The council’s “Edu­ca­tion Reform Report” says it is intend­ed to help DeVos and Trump map a path toward change. The pro­pos­al to abol­ish the depart­ment dove­tails with the longheld views of many Repub­li­cans, and Pres­i­dent Trump sug­gest­ed dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign that the agency could be “large­ly elim­i­nat­ed.” But Trump has giv­en no sign since tak­ing office that he aims to act on that idea, and DeVos embraced the mis­sion of the depart­ment when she took office last week.

    Still, the council’s views car­ry weight in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. Its hun­dreds of mem­bers are a who’s who of promi­nent fig­ures on the Chris­t­ian right, includ­ing for­mer law­mak­ers and lead­ers in social activism, busi­ness and think tanks. Their thrice-year­ly meet­ings are held in undis­closed loca­tions, and every four years GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates show up to address the crowd and seek their favor.

    A ver­sion of the council’s report, cre­at­ed by an 11-mem­ber edu­ca­tion com­mit­tee, was post­ed on the council’s web­site. Three com­mit­tee mem­bers con­firmed its authen­tic­i­ty.

    The doc­u­ment pro­pos­es demot­ing the depart­ment to a pres­i­den­tial “Advi­so­ry Coun­cil on Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion Reform,” a sub-Cab­i­net-lev­el agency that would serve as a con­sul­tant to states. New employ­ees should sub­scribe to the edu­ca­tion­al world­view of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, it says, “from assis­tant sec­re­taries to the mail­room.”

    It also says states should encour­age K‑12 pub­lic schools to post the Ten Com­mand­ments, teach Bible class­es and rec­og­nize hol­i­days such as East­er and Christ­mas; pro­mote instruc­tion “from a Judeo-Chris­t­ian per­spec­tive”; and remove “sec­u­lar-based sex edu­ca­tion mate­ri­als from school facil­i­ties.”

    It calls for the ter­mi­na­tion of the Com­mon Core aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards and an end to the gov­ern­ment col­lec­tion of stu­dent data, which has gen­er­at­ed con­cerns among activists on the right and the left.

    The goal, it says, is a “grad­ual, vol­un­tary return at all lev­els to free-mar­ket pri­vate schools, church schools and home schools as the nor­ma­tive Amer­i­can prac­tice.”

    Think tanks rou­tine­ly seek to influ­ence new admin­is­tra­tions. But the council’s vision would be a dra­mat­ic depar­ture for edu­ca­tion in Amer­i­ca. Near­ly 9 in 10 stu­dents attend pub­lic schools, and the Supreme Court has ruled repeat­ed­ly that the First Amend­ment pro­hibits pub­lic schools from estab­lish­ing or pro­mot­ing any par­tic­u­lar reli­gion.

    The depart­ment admin­is­ters and man­ages stu­dent loans for tens of mil­lions of bor­row­ers, gives K‑12 schools bil­lions of dol­lars a year to bol­ster edu­ca­tion for chil­dren who are poor or have dis­abil­i­ties and enforces civ­il rights laws in schools and col­leges nation­wide.

    A depart­ment spokesman said Wednes­day that DeVos had not received the doc­u­ment and there­fore had no reac­tion. DeVos “ful­ly sup­ports the mis­sion of the depart­ment and applauds the deci­sion by the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States to con­tin­ue to keep the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion at Cab­i­net lev­el,” the spokesman said.

    Trump, as a can­di­date, endorsed elim­i­nat­ing the Com­mon Core. But as pres­i­dent he can­not do that on his own because stan­dards are decid­ed by states.

    Trump has said noth­ing since tak­ing office about dis­man­tling or down­siz­ing the depart­ment. Rep. Thomas Massie (R‑Ky.) this month intro­duced a one-sen­tence bill to elim­i­nate the agency by the end of 2018.

    DeVos has long advo­cat­ed for tax­pay­er-sup­port­ed vouch­ers to help par­ents pay tuition for pri­vate and reli­gious schools. Before her con­fir­ma­tion and since tak­ing office Feb.7 as sec­re­tary she has sought to allay con­cerns about how she would lead the depart­ment, though she has also made clear that she is look­ing for ways to shrink it.

    “I can’t tell you today what’s being done that’s unnec­es­sary, but I can guar­an­tee that there are things that the depart­ment has been doing that are prob­a­bly not nec­es­sary or impor­tant for a fed­er­al agency to do,” she told Michael Patrick Shiels, a Michi­gan radio host, this week. “Real­ly, when it comes down to it, edu­ca­tion and the pro­vi­sion of edu­ca­tion is real­ly a state and local respon­si­bil­i­ty to a large extent.”

    In Wash­ing­ton, she told career employ­ees last week that they are “pro­fes­sion­als” to whom she will lis­ten, and she said she thought that despite dis­agree­ments, “we can — and must — come togeth­er, find com­mon ground and put the needs of our stu­dents first.”

    DeVos grew up in the Chris­t­ian Reformed Church and grad­u­at­ed from Calvin Col­lege, which is affil­i­at­ed with that church. Her sup­port for vouch­ers appears to be moti­vat­ed by faith: She once said she believed her edu­ca­tion-reform efforts could “advance God’s King­dom” and lead to “greater King­dom gain in the long run.”

    In light of those com­ments, Sen. Al Franken (D‑Minn.) asked DeVos before her con­fir­ma­tion to clar­i­fy her beliefs about the role of reli­gion in pub­lic edu­ca­tion.

    “My faith is very impor­tant to me and informs my work. In edu­ca­tion, it teach­es me that every child is spe­cial and deserves the best we can offer them,” she wrote in response to Franken’s ques­tion. “That said, I do not believe in impos­ing my faith on oth­ers and, if con­firmed, I will imple­ment the laws as intend­ed by Con­gress. That includes the pro­vi­sions about the pro­hi­bi­tion against reli­gious instruc­tion in schools.”

    E. Ray Moore Jr., a mem­ber of the council’s edu­ca­tion com­mit­tee, said he believes Trump’s elec­tion shift­ed the edu­ca­tion debate toward the right, away from a focus on how to fix pub­lic schools and toward how to cre­ate alter­na­tives. And that’s what is need­ed, Moore said, to strength­en edu­ca­tion.

    “The sys­tem can’t be fixed,” Moore said. “You don’t hear Repub­li­cans and free-mar­ket peo­ple talk­ing about fix­ing Oba­macare. They talk about repeal and replace. We think the same argu­ment should apply to edu­ca­tion.”

    Moore is the founder of the Exo­dus Man­date Project, which encour­ages Chris­t­ian fam­i­lies to pull their chil­dren out of pub­lic schools. He said that he was speak­ing for him­self, not the com­mit­tee, and that he does not know whether DeVos will adopt any of the committee’s ideas.

    “My guess is that she’s not going to want to do a lot of it. It may be a bridge too far for her,” Moore said. “But this is what a lot of con­ser­v­a­tives would like to see hap­pen.”

    ...

    “The goal, it says, is a “grad­ual, vol­un­tary return at all lev­els to free-mar­ket pri­vate schools, church schools and home schools as the nor­ma­tive Amer­i­can prac­tice.””

    And how does the CNP pro­pose the US enact a “grad­ual, vol­un­tary return at all lev­els to free-mar­ket pri­vate schools, church schools and home schools as the nor­ma­tive Amer­i­can prac­tice”?

    ...
    The doc­u­ment pro­pos­es demot­ing the depart­ment to a pres­i­den­tial “Advi­so­ry Coun­cil on Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion Reform,” a sub-Cab­i­net-lev­el agency that would serve as a con­sul­tant to states. New employ­ees should sub­scribe to the edu­ca­tion­al world­view of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, it says, “from assis­tant sec­re­taries to the mail­room.”

    It also says states should encour­age K‑12 pub­lic schools to post the Ten Com­mand­ments, teach Bible class­es and rec­og­nize hol­i­days such as East­er and Christ­mas; pro­mote instruc­tion “from a Judeo-Chris­t­ian per­spec­tive”; and remove “sec­u­lar-based sex edu­ca­tion mate­ri­als from school facil­i­ties.”

    It calls for the ter­mi­na­tion of the Com­mon Core aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards and an end to the gov­ern­ment col­lec­tion of stu­dent data, which has gen­er­at­ed con­cerns among activists on the right and the left.
    ...

    So that’s at least part of the plan. Along with DeVos’s long-held goal of pub­lic vouch­ers for char­ter and reli­gious schools.

    So aside from the CNP’s ties to DeVos, Ban­non and Con­way, how much influ­ence should we expect it to have a Trump admin­is­tra­tion? Quite a bit, if you con­sid­er that the CNP is like the moth­er­ship for US far-right fig­ures, with hun­dreds of influ­en­tial far-right per­son­al­i­ties on its mem­ber­ship rolls:

    The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter

    The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy: Behind the Cur­tain

    Hei­di Beirich and Mark Potok
    May 17, 2016

    The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, a high­ly secre­tive group, is a key venue where main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives and extrem­ists mix.

    For 35 years, a shad­owy and intense­ly secre­tive group has oper­at­ed behind the scenes, pro­vid­ing a venue three times a year for pow­er­ful Amer­i­can politi­cians and oth­ers on the right to meet pri­vate­ly to build the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment.

    The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP) is, in the words of The New York Times, “a lit­tle-known club of a few hun­dred of the most pow­er­ful con­ser­v­a­tives in the coun­try,” an orga­ni­za­tion so tight-lipped that it tells its peo­ple not to admit mem­ber­ship or even name the group. It is impor­tant enough that last fall, accord­ing to an account in The Nation­al Review, Don­ald Trump and five oth­er Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates each took 30 min­utes to address the group; the con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal report­ed that Trump was by far the favorite can­di­date.

    The names of many mem­bers and offi­cers of the group have leaked over the years, and some of its offi­cers are report­ed on the organization’s tax forms. But the last time long lists of its mem­bers was made pub­lic was in 1998. For the most part since then, mem­bers of the CNP — which can be joined only by invi­ta­tion, at a cost of thou­sands of dol­lars — have man­aged to keep their iden­ti­ties secret.

    That is about to end. The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC) recent­ly obtained a copy of theCNP’s 2014 Mem­ber­ship Direc­to­ry, a 191-page com­pendi­um that lists 413 mem­bers, 118 mem­bers who have died, and 14 past pres­i­dents. The list is sur­pris­ing, not so much for the con­ser­v­a­tives who dom­i­nate it — activists of the reli­gious right and the so-called “cul­ture wars,” along with a smat­ter­ing of wealthy financiers, Con­gres­sion­al oper­a­tives, right-wing con­sul­tants and Tea Par­ty enthu­si­asts — but for the many real extrem­ists who are includ­ed.

    Paul S. Teller, the hard­line chief of staff to Ted Cruz who was once described by The Hill as Cruz’s “agi­ta­tor in chief,” is a mem­ber, or at least he was in 2014. Tony Perkins, the head of the LGBT-bash­ing Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil, was its vice pres­i­dent that year, one of three exec­u­tive offi­cers. And Frank Gaffney, whose group pro­vid­ed Trump with bogus sta­tis­tics about Amer­i­can Mus­lims’ sup­port for vio­lent jihad and who was a senior advis­er to Cruz until May, was a mem­ber, too.

    The CNP’s 2014 vision state­ment, repro­duced at the front of the direc­to­ry, suc­cinct­ly lays out its goal: “A unit­ed con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment to assure, by 2020, pol­i­cy lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance that restores reli­gious and eco­nom­ic free­dom, a strong nation­al defense, and Judeo-Chris­t­ian val­ues under the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

    But it has long been known that the group includ­ed some key indi­vid­u­als whose goals are less benev­o­lent. One of its five founders, Tim LaHaye, is the co-author of the Left Behind series of apoc­a­lyp­tic Chris­t­ian nov­els and a man who has described gay peo­ple as “vile,” said the Illu­mi­nati are con­spir­ing to estab­lish a “new world order,” attacked Catholi­cism, and once worked for the wild­ly con­spir­acist John Birch Soci­ety. An impor­tant mem­ber whose name was revealed ear­ly on was John Rousas Rush­doony, who is list­ed in the 2014 directory’s “In Memo­ri­am” sec­tion and advo­cat­ed for a soci­ety ruled by Old Tes­ta­ment law requir­ing, among oth­er things, the ston­ing of adul­ter­ess­es, idol­aters and “incor­ri­gi­ble” chil­dren.

    ...

    The 2014 CNP mem­bers are paragons of the con­ser­v­a­tive estab­lish­ment. There are busi­ness titans, Chris­t­ian col­lege pres­i­dents, own­ers and edi­tors of right-wing media out­lets, GOP mega-donors, gov­ern­ment staffers and lead­ing mem­bers of con­ser­v­a­tive think tanks. There are offi­cials of orga­ni­za­tions like the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion and the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety. There are politi­cians and polit­i­cal appointees, anti-abor­tion activists and also some who are less known pub­licly as con­ser­v­a­tives, like Lin­da L. Bean, who owns L.L. Bean Inc., an out­doorsy cloth­ing com­pa­ny.

    But what is most remark­able about the direc­to­ry is that it reveals how the CNP has become a key meet­ing place where osten­si­bly main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives inter­act with indi­vid­u­als who are, by any rea­son­able def­i­n­i­tion, gen­uine­ly extrem­ist.

    Caus­tic Com­bi­na­tions

    Tony Perkins is a good exam­ple. He has false­ly claimed that pedophil­ia is “a homo­sex­u­al prob­lem,” said that gay peo­ple “recruit” chil­dren, secret­ly pur­chased a mail­ing list for a can­di­date he was man­ag­ing from for­mer Klan leader David Duke, and addressed, in 2001, the white suprema­cist Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens (the same group that inspired Dylann Roof’s mur­der of nine church­go­ers last year).

    He is hard­ly alone.

    On the CNP’s board of gov­er­nors, for instance, is Michael Per­out­ka. Per­out­ka was for many years on the board of the League of the South, a neo-Con­fed­er­ate hate group that advo­cates for a new­ly seced­ed South ruled by white peo­ple. He was also the 2004 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for the Con­sti­tu­tion Par­ty, a far-right group opposed to abor­tion in all cas­es. He has appeared on a white nation­al­ist radio show.

    There are sev­er­al oth­er well-known extrem­ists on the same board of gov­er­nors. Jerome Cor­si is the pro­pa­gan­dist hit man respon­si­ble for the “Swift boat­ing” of John Ker­ry, has writ­ten an error-filled book alleg­ing that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma was not born in the Unit­ed States, once described Mar­tin Luther King Jr. as a “shake­down artist,” and is a sub­scriber to numer­ous base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. In his lat­est, 2014 book, he claims that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun fled to Argenti­na after the end of World War II and lived there hap­pi­ly until their deaths.

    Anoth­er on that board is Joseph Farah, who runs the con­spir­acist online “news” out­let, “World­Net­Dai­ly” and employs Cor­si. When Farah’s site isn’t busy bash­ing any­thing vague­ly lib­er­al or sug­gest­ing that Oba­ma is help­ing the Unit­ed Nations cre­ate a one-world gov­ern­ment, it spends its time doing such vital work as run­ning a six-part series alleg­ing that eat­ing soy­beans caus­es homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.

    Also on the board is Mat Staver, leader of the anti-LGBT Lib­er­ty Coun­sel, who has worked for the re-crim­i­nal­iza­tion of gay sex, described the Boy Scouts as a “play­ground for pedophiles,” and likened LGBT activists to ter­ror­ists. And then there’s Alan Sears, founder of the Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom and the co-author of The Homo­sex­u­al Agen­da: Expos­ing the Prin­ci­pal Threat to Reli­gious Free­dom Today, which false­ly links pedophil­ia to homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.

    These mem­bers are list­ed on the CNP’s board of gov­er­nors right along­side peo­ple who are not par­tic­u­lar­ly known for their polit­i­cal extrem­ism, although they are cer­tain­ly high­ly con­ser­v­a­tive. A lead­ing exam­ple is Chad Con­nel­ly, the two-term head of the South Car­oli­na Repub­li­can Par­ty who left that post in 2013 and is now the Repub­li­can Nation­al Committee’s nation­al direc­tor of faith engage­ment.

    Lead­ers and Mon­ey

    The CNP founders, includ­ing then-Moral Major­i­ty leader Tim LaHaye, were a col­or­ful cast of char­ac­ters: oil­man Nel­son Bunker Hunt, a one-time mem­ber of the John Birch Society’s rul­ing coun­cil and a bil­lion­aire before he went bank­rupt as a result of his effort to cor­ner the sil­ver mar­ket; T. Cullen Davis, a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire from Texas who was tried and acquit­ted in two sep­a­rate mur­der cas­es; William Cies, a wealthy John Bircher and major CNP fun­der; and Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion and the Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil.

    The CNP’s lat­est avail­able tax forms show that the group has a bud­get of between $1.5 mil­lion and $2 mil­lion. Eleven years after it was found­ed in 1981 as a tax-exempt orga­ni­za­tion, the IRS yanked that sta­tus on the grounds that CNP was not run for the ben­e­fit of the pub­lic. A long legal bat­tle ensued, with the CNP regain­ing its tax-exempt sta­tus after promis­ing to pro­duce a quar­ter­ly jour­nal meant to edu­cate the pub­lic, although it did not do so until years lat­er. It also launched a web­site that dis­trib­utes two pub­li­ca­tions, Pol­i­cy Coun­sel and Heard Around the Hill.

    Secre­cy was para­mount from the first. “Mem­bers are told not to dis­cuss the group, reveal the top­ics dis­cussed in the closed-door meet­ings, or even say whether or not they are mem­bers of the orga­ni­za­tion,” The Salt Lake City Tri­bune report­ed. The mem­ber­ship list is “strict­ly con­fi­den­tial” and guests may attend “only with the unan­i­mous approval of the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee,” accord­ing to The New York Times, which also report­ed that one of its rules was, “The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our pro­grams, before or after a meet­ing.”

    In the 2014 direc­to­ry, two oth­er exec­u­tive offi­cers are list­ed in addi­tion to Perkins, the CNP’s vice pres­i­dent. They are Pres­i­dent Stu­art W. Epper­son, co-founder of the sprawl­ing con­ser­v­a­tive radio and online Salem Media Group, whose on-air per­son­al­i­ty Hugh Hewitt co-mod­er­at­ed some recent GOP pres­i­den­tial debates, and Trea­sur­er John H. Scrib­ante, the CEO of Ori­on Ener­gy Sys­tems Inc.

    Those are not the only wealthy peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with CNP. Its past pres­i­dents, in par­tic­u­lar, include many extreme­ly well off busi­ness­men. Among them are Nel­son Bunker Hunt; Richard DeVos, the co-founder of Amway whose net worth was esti­mat­ed at $5 bil­lion in 2012; and Fos­ter Friess, a stock pick­er who was rec­og­nized in 2011 for con­tri­bu­tions exceed­ing $1 mil­lion to the right-wing fund­ing appa­ra­tus start­ed by broth­ers Charles and David Koch. Friess is noto­ri­ous for throw­ing him­self an almost $8 mil­lion birth­day par­ty and say­ing on TV that women used to avoid preg­nan­cy by putting a Bay­er aspirin “between their knees.”

    Oth­er past pres­i­dents include Tim LaHaye, one of CNP’s orig­i­nal founders; Edwin Meese, a right-wing Cal­i­for­nia lawyer who rose to become the nation’s attor­ney gen­er­al under Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan; and Pat Robert­son, the far-right Chris­t­ian activist who start­ed the Chris­t­ian Coali­tion and sim­i­lar groups and who pushed the­o­ries of a world­wide Jew­ish con­spir­a­cy in one of his books.

    A Who’s Who of the Right

    The CNP direc­to­ry is a remark­able ros­ter of sig­nif­i­cant fig­ures on the polit­i­cal and reli­gious right. In addi­tion to list­ing their names and affil­i­a­tions with var­i­ous insti­tu­tions, it also notes the issues that inter­est each of them. Although those issues vary, the favorites giv­en include “Homo­sex­u­al Issues” and “Rad­i­cal Islam.”

    The direc­to­ry includes offi­cials from 14 dif­fer­ent con­ser­v­a­tive media out­lets, includ­ing the opin­ion edi­tor for The Wash­ing­ton Times; the pub­lish­er of the Dai­ly Caller web­site; the edi­tor-in-chief of CNSNews.com; and Thomas Lif­son, edi­tor and pub­lish­er of Amer­i­can Thinker, which pub­lished a fawn­ing pro­file of Jared Tay­lor, a lead­ing white nation­al­ist intel­lec­tu­al. It also includes major donors to con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es, among them Michael Grebe, CEO of the far-right Lyn­de and Har­ry Bradley Foun­da­tion, and Hugh Maclel­lan, pres­i­dent of the Maclel­lan Foun­da­tion.

    Intel­lec­tu­als on the list include Edwin J. Feul­ner of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion and upper-lev­el offi­cials from 16 most­ly con­ser­v­a­tive uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges. And the large num­ber of busi­ness lead­ers include Nashville’s Lea Bea­man, the own­er of sev­er­al car deal­er­ships, James R. Leininger, founder of Kinet­ic Con­cepts Inc.; Gary Love­less of Square Mile Ener­gy, and many oth­ers from the pri­vate sec­tor.

    The direc­to­ry also con­tains a list of young con­ser­v­a­tive lead­ers who com­prise the CNP’s William F. Buck­ley Jr. Coun­cil. Among them are Daniel Suhr, chief of staff to Wis­con­sin Lt. Gov. Rebec­ca Kleefisch; Nico­las L. Wenker, a law clerk for the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee; Gar­rett Gib­son, a Texas Supreme Court clerk; and William J. Rivers, a press assis­tant to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R‑Pa.). Anoth­er one is Josh Dug­gar, the infa­mous mem­ber of the Dug­gar fam­i­ly that was the focus of TLC’s real­i­ty show, “19 Kids and Count­ing.” In 2015, Dug­gar was enmeshed in an enor­mous scan­dal when his youth­ful molest­ing of five girls, four of them his sis­ters, and his lat­er mem­ber­ship in the Ash­ley Madi­son hookup site became pub­lic.

    And then there is Michael Cen­tan­ni, a CNP mem­ber and the COO of a direct mail com­pa­ny that raised mon­ey for con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates. Cen­tan­ni plead­ed guilty to pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy — more than 3,000 images and 267 videos — in Octo­ber 2014. He was sen­tenced last year to 46 months in fed­er­al prison.

    But, again, the direc­to­ry is most note­wor­thy for its hard­lin­ers.

    One of them is Austin Ruse, head of the Catholic Fam­i­ly and Human Rights Insti­tute and a man who has lob­bied against repro­duc­tive rights, abor­tion and LGBT peo­ple at the UN and abroad for years. He once report­ed­ly said that a Catholic priest “offered me guar­an­teed abso­lu­tion if I just took [Hillary Clin­ton] out — and not on a date.” Ruse was fired from the far-right Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly Asso­ci­a­tion’s radio oper­a­tion for say­ing lib­er­al pro­fes­sors should be “tak­en out and shot.”

    Anoth­er is Tim Wild­mon, leader of the Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly Asso­ci­a­tion, which is also an intense­ly anti-LGBT group. One of the organization’s offi­cials has noto­ri­ous­ly com­plained that wel­fare rewards black peo­ple who “rut like rab­bits” and assert­ed false­ly that “homo­sex­u­al­i­ty gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six mil­lion dead Jews.” (The group repu­di­at­ed those com­ments last year in let­ters to the SPLC, which at the time was pub­licly crit­i­ciz­ing the group for its role in pay­ing for sev­er­al dozen mem­bers of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee to vis­it Israel.) Wild­mon him­self has denounced homo­sex­u­al­i­ty and described Islam as a “reli­gion of war, vio­lence, intol­er­ance and phys­i­cal per­se­cu­tion.”

    Philip Zod­hi­ates is anoth­er CNP mem­ber. In 2014, Zod­hi­ates was accused in New York of help­ing a woman named Lisa Miller, a self-described for­mer les­bian who fled the coun­try with her daugh­ter dur­ing a cus­tody dis­pute with her for­mer part­ner. Charged with con­spir­a­cy and inter­na­tion­al kid­nap­ping, Zod­hi­ates is set to go to tri­al in Sep­tem­ber 2016 and could face up to five years in prison. For years, Zod­hi­ates’ direct mail com­pa­ny, Response Unlim­it­ed, sold lists of sub­scribers to America’s lead­ing anti-Semit­ic tabloid, The Spot­light, and its suc­ces­sor pub­li­ca­tion, Amer­i­can Free Press, although nei­ther is now list­ed at the Response web­site.

    The rad­i­cal­ism of many mem­bers of the CNP is noth­ing new. That becomes obvi­ous from a perusal of the 2014 directory’s “In Memo­ri­am” sec­tion.

    One of the peo­ple list­ed there is Madeleine Cos­man, a long­time immi­grant-bash­er who told a 2005 nativist con­fer­ence that “most” Lati­no immi­grant men “molest girls under 12, although some spe­cial­ize in boys, and some in nuns.” Cos­man, a medieval cook­book author with no exper­tise in med­i­cine or immi­gra­tion, also was the source of the sto­ried, and entire­ly false, claim by then-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs that immi­grants had brought a wave of lep­rosy to the Unit­ed States.

    Anoth­er is Howard Phillips, founder in 1992 of the U.S. Tax­pay­ers Par­ty, whose goal was to imple­ment bib­li­cal law. Phillips was known for his oppo­si­tion to the Vot­ing Rights Act, homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, pornog­ra­phy, immi­grants and abor­tion.

    W. Cleon Skousen, who is also on that list, was a long­time speak­er for the John Birch Soci­ety and defend­er of the Mor­mon Church’s then-pol­i­cy of exclud­ing black peo­ple from its priest­hood. Skousen was obsessed with alleged com­mu­nist sub­ver­sion and wrote a book, The Naked Cap­i­tal­ist, that remains a major source of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries for peo­ple includ­ing tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ty Glenn Beck.

    Oth­ers on the list include Lar­ry McDon­ald, a con­gress­man and the sec­ond pres­i­dent of the John Birch Soci­ety; J. Evetts Haley, who want­ed to use the Texas Rangers to enforce school seg­re­ga­tion after the Supreme Court out­lawed it; and Clarence Arch Deck­er, a one-time Col­orado state sen­a­tor whose Sum­mit Min­istries once pub­lished a book sug­gest­ing that gay peo­ple might have to be interned.

    The Dan­ger of the CNP

    The CNP has every legal right to hold its meet­ings in pri­vate and to try to keep its mem­ber­ship secret. And it does pub­lish many of the speech­es its mem­bers hear, includ­ing most of the talks giv­en by the GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates last fall (the excep­tion was Trump’s talk). The speech­es tend to cen­ter on expect­ed top­ics for such con­ser­v­a­tives, from oppo­si­tion to same-sex mar­riage to cut­ting tax­es.

    But it also pro­vides an impor­tant venue in which rel­a­tive­ly main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives meet and very pos­si­bly are influ­enced by real extrem­ists, peo­ple who reg­u­lar­ly defame LGBT peo­ple with utter false­hoods, describe Lati­no immi­grants as a dan­ger­ous group of rapists and dis­ease-car­ri­ers, engage in the kind of wild-eyed con­spir­a­cy the­o­riz­ing for which the John Birch Soci­ety is famous, and even sug­gest that cer­tain peo­ple should be stoned to death in line with Old Tes­ta­ment law.

    And the peo­ple mix­ing with or giv­ing speech­es to these extrem­ists are key lead­ers in Amer­i­can soci­ety. Those speak­ing in recent years to the CNP have includ­ed Pres­i­dent George W. Bush; Bush’s vice pres­i­dent, Dick Cheney; and Clarence Thomas, one of the most con­ser­v­a­tive jus­tices on the Supreme Court. The speak­ers at CNP’s can­di­date forum last Octo­ber includ­ed Trump, Ben Car­son, Jim Gilmore, Lind­sey Gra­ham, Rand Paul and Rick San­to­rum.

    At a time of extreme polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion in our soci­ety, in the mid­dle of an ugly pres­i­den­tial con­test which has fea­tured an almost unsur­passed record of eth­nic, racial and sex­u­al insults and lies, Amer­i­cans deserve to know who their osten­si­ble lead­ers are mix­ing with as we col­lec­tive­ly decide our country’s future.

    ...

    “But what is most remark­able about the direc­to­ry is that it reveals how the CNP has become a key meet­ing place where osten­si­bly main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives inter­act with indi­vid­u­als who are, by any rea­son­able def­i­n­i­tion, gen­uine­ly extrem­ist.”

    An orga­ni­za­tion where main­stream-ish ‘cul­ture-war­riors’ can secret­ly net­work with hard­core far-right extrem­ist and their wealthy bene­fac­tors. Wow, sounds like the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Except for the secret part.

    So how much of the CNP’s agen­da will the White House attempt to actu­al­ly imple­ment. Only the Trump Team knows for sure, and it’s a secret. Sort of.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 15, 2017, 4:26 pm
  16. One of the ques­tions raise by Don­ald Trump’s vic­to­ry solid­i­fy­ing the Amer­i­can far-right’s com­plete con­trol of US gov­ern­ment at the fed­er­al lev­el is what’s are all the far-right anti-gov­ern­ment move­ments going to do for the next 4–8 years. Well, the League of the South cer­tain­ly has plans the Trump era: form Trump’s Brown­shirts a vig­i­lante ‘South­ern Defense Force’ intend­ed to com­bat ‘the left­ist men­ace’. But it’s not exclu­sive­ly intend­ed to be vig­i­lante in nature. If state and local author­i­ties ever feel the need to dep­u­tize pri­vate cit­i­zens, this new ‘South­ern Defense Force’ is plan­ning on fill­ing that role too:

    South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter

    League of the South Announces For­ma­tion of ‘South­ern Defense Force’

    Feb­ru­ary 06, 2017
    Hate­watch Staff

    Edg­ing clos­er to mil­i­tan­cy, the neo-Con­fed­er­ate League of the South says it’s form­ing a force to com­bat the ‘left­ist men­ace to our his­toric Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion.’

    In a mil­i­tary-styled order titled “Direc­tive 02022017,” Michael Hill, pres­i­dent of the neo-Con­fed­er­ate League of the South (LOS), announced Fri­day the for­ma­tion of a new vig­i­lante “defense force.”

    [T]he League of the South is call­ing for all able-bod­ied, tra­di­tion­al­ist South­ern men to join our organization’s South­ern Defense Force for the pur­pose of help­ing our State and local mag­is­trates across Dix­ie com­bat this grow­ing left­ist men­ace to our his­toric Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion. As pri­vate cit­i­zens in a pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion, we will stand ready to pro­tect our own fam­i­lies and friends, our prop­er­ty, and our lib­er­ty from left­ist chaos. More­over, we will be ready to assist our local and State author­i­ties in keep­ing the peace should they find it nec­es­sary to “dep­u­tize” pri­vate cit­i­zens for that pur­pose.

    It remains to be seen what actions the new “South­ern Defense Force” [SDF] will take to “plan for con­tin­gen­cies – nat­ur­al or man-made –– that might affect the South­ern peo­ple.” But announce­ments of plans to mil­i­ta­rize the League are not new.

    In 2014, the group began devel­op­ing and train­ing a para­mil­i­tary unit called the “Indomita­bles” to advance a sec­ond seces­sion, though such efforts fiz­zled quick­ly.

    Promis­ing increased LOS mil­i­tan­cy has cost the group and led to fal­ter­ing mem­ber­ship. Since Dylann Roof’s mas­sacre of nine con­gre­gants at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015, Hate­watch has doc­u­ment­ed a string of high-pro­file depar­tures.

    ...

    Hill’s announce­ment clos­es by direct­ing recruits to con­tact the League using a web form reserved for nor­mal mem­bers. “Are you ready to be a man among men?” Hill asks. “Join the League and its South­ern Defense Force today!”

    The phrase “man among men” is a ref­er­ence to pro­pa­gan­da posters for the Rhode­sian Army dur­ing the Rhode­sian Bush War, a civ­il war from 1964–79 in the unrec­og­nized coun­try of Rhode­sia that remains a pop­u­lar ref­er­ence for white nation­al­ists. The con­flict inspired Dylann Roof, who named his blog “The Last Rhode­sian” and posed for pic­tures on social media with the Con­fed­er­ate Bat­tle Flag while wear­ing a jack­et patched with a Rhode­sian flag.

    It seems to have inspired Hill, too. He has echoed the Rhode­sian mythos in a series of social media posts and on the LOS web­site, typ­i­fy­ing the loss of polit­i­cal hege­mo­ny by whites in that war as tan­ta­mount to racial geno­cide.

    While Hill is just one voice in a grow­ing cho­rus con­tribut­ing to an esca­la­tion of vio­lent rhetoric across the South and the Unit­ed States, the for­ma­tion of the SDF rep­re­sents some­thing else, too –– a des­per­ate promise of armed resis­tance from an aging rad­i­cal on the fringe of a move­ment he once dom­i­nat­ed.

    “[T]he League of the South is call­ing for all able-bod­ied, tra­di­tion­al­ist South­ern men to join our organization’s South­ern Defense Force for the pur­pose of help­ing our State and local mag­is­trates across Dix­ie com­bat this grow­ing left­ist men­ace to our his­toric Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion. As pri­vate cit­i­zens in a pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion, we will stand ready to pro­tect our own fam­i­lies and friends, our prop­er­ty, and our lib­er­ty from left­ist chaos. More­over, we will be ready to assist our local and State author­i­ties in keep­ing the peace should they find it nec­es­sary to “dep­u­tize” pri­vate cit­i­zens for that pur­pose

    And if you’re won­der­ing if Michael Hill, pres­i­dent of the League of the South, real­ly is mak­ing an overt­ly white-nation­al­ist dog-whis­tle when he asks “Are you ready to be a man among men?”, here’s his dec­la­ra­tion imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing elec­tion day about how no mer­cy should be shown towards “Jews, minori­ties, and anti-white whites”:

    Right Wing Watch

    League Of The South Hails Trump, Wants ‘No Mer­cy’ Towards ‘Jews, Minori­ties And Anti-White Whites’

    By Bri­an Tash­man | Novem­ber 10, 2016 2:23 pm

    As white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis cel­e­brate the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Michael Hill, pres­i­dent of the neo-Con­fed­er­ate League of the South, react­ed to Don­ald Trump’s vic­to­ry yes­ter­day by vow­ing to show “no mer­cy” to “the ene­mies of our God, our Folk and our civ­i­liza­tion” and to final­ly “dri­ve a stake” through the heart of “the glob­al­ist-pro­gres­sive coali­tion of Jews, minori­ties, and anti-white whites.”

    Once the glob­al­ist-pro­gres­sive coali­tion of Jews, minori­ties, and anti-white whites stops reel­ing in con­fu­sion from the results of yesterday’s elec­tion, we can expect them to start strik­ing back with trick­ery and vio­lence. Thus, we as South­ern nation­al­ists face both dan­ger and oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    Now, more than ever, we need tight orga­ni­za­tion and num­bers to help dri­ve a stake through Dracula’s heart and keep him from ris­ing once again to men­ace our peo­ple and civ­i­liza­tion. No mer­cy should be shown to the ene­mies of our God, our Folk, and our civ­i­liza­tion. None would be afford­ed us.

    Today, Hill warned neo-Con­fed­er­ate activists that if “you don’t fin­ish the job by rout­ing your ene­mies and dri­ving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been giv­en a reprieve by God (prob­a­bly unde­served­ly so); do not give your ene­mies and His a reprieve.”

    He said that a Trump pres­i­den­cy may rep­re­sent a God-giv­en “short reprieve” from the “demise of old white Amer­i­ca,” telling mem­bers that they must use this oppor­tu­ni­ty to fight for and build “White Man’s Land.”

    So here is my warn­ing to the vic­tors: do not go back to sleep and think all is well. If you don’t fin­ish the job by rout­ing your ene­mies and dri­ving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been giv­en a reprieve by God (prob­a­bly unde­served­ly so); do not give your ene­mies and His a reprieve.

    Their goal is to dis­pos­sess you of every­thing. If you have not heard that over the past year, then you have not been lis­ten­ing. Just what the hell do you think mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, diver­si­ty, and tol­er­ance are all about? Your ene­mies care noth­ing about those things. They are mere­ly used as weapons against you for your dis­pos­ses­sion and ulti­mate destruc­tion. The sum of their effect is White Guilt.

    ...

    These media elites (and oth­ers of their elite ilk) look for­ward to the demise of old white Amer­i­ca and the rise of a new par­a­digm in which they will hold sway. You will be dis­pos­sessed, sequestered in the equiv­a­lent of ghet­tos, and will be a despised and hat­ed minor­i­ty in the coun­try your ances­tors built.

    You, by God’s grace, may have been giv­en a short reprieve from this sce­nario. Redeem the time! As for me, I rec­om­mend that we get busy with South­ern inde­pen­dence. We need our own coun­try, and it must be run by us for our own inter­ests. It must once again be White Man’s Land.

    “Today, Hill warned neo-Con­fed­er­ate activists that if “you don’t fin­ish the job by rout­ing your ene­mies and dri­ving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been giv­en a reprieve by God (prob­a­bly unde­served­ly so); do not give your ene­mies and His a reprieve.””

    So it sounds like the ‘South­ern Defense Force’ is going focused on dri­ving Jews, minori­ties, and non-white-suprema­cist whites ‘into the sea’, mer­ci­less­ly, while it works on build­ing a new whites-only inde­pen­dent South. Or maybe they’ll get dep­u­tized so they can help ‘keep the peace’. Both sce­nar­ios are part of the plan. Whichev­er comes first.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 20, 2017, 4:18 pm
  17. @ Den­nis–

    The Under­ground Reich con­trols the Deep State as well, through cor­po­ra­tions, CIA, relat­ed ele­ments like the OUN/B milieu exem­pli­fied by Alexan­dra Chalu­pa and Dim­it­ry Alper­ovitch (of Crowd­strike).

    Trump will, I believe, ulti­mate­ly be removed. Pence is the guy the GOP and UR real­ly want–all of the evil with­out Trump’s weird­ness and foibles.

    Remem­ber, the Trump state­ments on NATO, Rus­sia, Ukraine et al were aimed, in my opin­ion, at start­ing a bid­ding war between the U.S./West and Rus­sia, for the ben­e­fit of Ger­many.

    U.S. will be the Bad Cop, Ger­many the Good Cop, although also “Bad Cop” for a while.

    Do fol­low Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy. Things are devel­op­ing as I said.

    The U.S. is inca­pable of any­thing but war­like stances, I’m afraid.

    Long term, expect U.S. to fade from the picture–as its econ­o­my col­laps­es, its envi­ron­ment becomes pol­lut­ed beyond redemp­tion, its foods and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals become dan­ger­ous to con­sume, along with its man­u­fac­tured goods, its mil­i­tary becomes hope­less­ly entan­gled in end­less wars far from home (help­ing to bank­rupt the econ­o­my), Wall Street crash­es again, its edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem retreats to the mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, its health care col­laps­es, epi­demics become the norm, and, who knows, a cyber-ter­ror­ist inci­dent or two and/or a nuclear pow­er plant melt-down or two.

    Long term, Ger­many and Rus­sia will find some sort of accom­mo­da­tion, a Ger­man-led all EU mil­i­tary replaces NATO (which will fade from the pic­ture with the decline and fall of the U.S.), and a Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed trade union stretch­ing all across the Earth Island, from Lis­bon to Vladi­vos­tok becomes the pre­em­i­nent com­mer­cial enti­ty on earth.

    Do pay atten­tion to the upcom­ing FTR #947 for some insights on a pos­si­ble fas­cist Rus­sia fol­low­ing removal of Putin, if U.S. is able to pull it off.

    I know this is com­pli­cat­ed, but Amer­i­cans are focused on “one side or the oth­er.”

    This is different‑a dynam­ic.

    Again, think “bid­ding war” to the ben­e­fit of Ger­many.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 21, 2017, 9:40 pm

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